These cases are unique. The signs and symptoms of asbestos-related illness show up so long after exposure that the typical injury case is not a good model for how an asbestos case should be handled.
The statute of limitations is a bit different for cases like this, where an injury or illness isn’t apparent for a while. In Illinois, it’s called the discovery rule. In a typical injury case, like a slip and fall, you have two years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. That’s the statute of limitations, or deadline, on the right to sue. Obviously this wouldn’t work for an asbestos case, where symptoms might not show up for 20-50 years later. Here, the discovery rule comes into play and it says that the clock on the statute of limitations doesn’t running until you realize that you have an asbestos-related injury or illness.
So the general rule is that you have two years from the date you realized you were injured or ill and that asbestos exposure was to blame in order to file a lawsuit. This could be two years from your diagnosis, for example. In cases where a person dies due to asbestos disease, the two years is still from the date of discovery rather than the date of death.
Most people diagnosed with asbestos-related disease are over the age of 65. It’s important to make a quick determination whether you have a legal case. It’s ok to look into this, it’s encouraged even, despite the fact that you might have no idea whom your case would be against. Many times, exposure occurs at a job. Years of regular exposure is likely to blame. Workers who manufactured, installed or removed products with asbestos are at highest risk. There also are cases of secondary exposure, where someone else in the worker’s household was regularly exposed from asbestos particles that came into the home on the worker’s clothes, for example.
There are two main diseases caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestosis and mesothelioma. Symptoms include chronic cough, weight loss, shortness of breath, fatigue, abdominal swelling, tumors and even coughing up blood. Seeing a doctor is obviously a good idea for health reasons, which should be your first concern, but seeing a doctor right away also helps establish a legal case if you decide to pursue one.
There are Illinois attorneys who focus their practice on helping clients suffering from asbestos-related disease and illness. These attorneys, especially the ones who have had success in past cases, are in the best position to advise you on whether you might have a good case and what the applicable deadline might be.
Let us know if you have questions about your situation or if you need help choosing an attorney. You’ve probably seen television or billboard ads for mesothelioma lawyers, but these ads don’t tell you anything specific about those lawyers. We only recommend lawyers with a track record of success, great client reviews and solid reputations among other attorneys and judges in Illinois.