Is There a Statute of Limitations for a Mass Tort Case?
When you suffer an injury due to the negligence of an entity and find other people who have experienced the same harm, you may be eligible for mass tort litigation. A mass tort is a type of civil lawsuit that involves a group of individual plaintiffs holding the same defendant or group of defendants liable for their injuries.
Mass tort claims allow each individual plaintiff to collect compensation for their specific damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering they incurred due to the actions of the defendant. Like many civil lawsuits, mass tort claims are subject to a rule known as the statute of limitations.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that places a deadline on a civil complaint. This means that, if you intend to file a lawsuit, you must file within the specified time period determined by the state. If you do not file within the statute of limitations, the court is likely to dismiss your claim. This effectively prevents you from claiming the compensation you need to recover.
While these laws may seem restrictive, they perform several functions. On one hand, a statute of limitations protects defendants from the threat of litigation after a certain time period, preventing potential plaintiffs from threatening to sue for an indefinite number of years. On the other hand, setting a time limit on a case encourages injured plaintiffs to come forward sooner, ensuring their witness testimonies are reliable and that evidence is still available, fresh, and admissible to the court.
Mass Tort Statutes of Limitations
States have the authority to set statutes of limitations for various cases. If you plan on filing or joining a mass tort claim, your filing deadline will be based on a number of factors, including the following.
- The state where your accident occurred
- The type of mass tort claim you intend to file
- When you discovered or should have reasonably discovered your injury
- The state’s rules for injuries that could not have been discovered immediately after the accident
States do not have specific statutes of limitations for mass tort claims; you will need to adhere to the deadline that applies to the type of case you intend to file. There are multiple types of mass tort cases, including product liability claims, claims against negligent property owners or landlords, bad faith complaints against insurance companies, or lawsuits against employers or third-party entities who place workers in dangerous situations.
For example, if you suffer an injury due to a defective product in California and plan to join a mass tort claim, you and your fellow plaintiffs will have two years from the date of your injury to file. If you experienced the same injury in New York, you would have three years from the date of your injury to file.
There are exceptions to these deadlines, but again, the rules vary from state to state. The strongest way to determine your statute of limitations is to speak to a mass tort lawyer. Your attorney will have the knowledge and experience necessary to interpret statute of limitations laws and inform you of your filing deadline.
Mass tort attorneys provide several benefits to these lawsuits, including access to expert witnesses and evidence, knowledge of the mass tort process, and the ability to identify additional injured plaintiffs. If you believe you may qualify for mass tort litigation, contact an attorney as soon as possible.