Is There a Statute of Limitations to File a Talcum Powder Lawsuit?

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A close up photo of a bottle of talcum powder sitting on it's side on a wooden desk with a small pile of spilled talcum powder in front of the bottle.

Yes, there is a statute of limitations that applies to talcum powder lawsuits. The specific statute of limitations in part depends on the state in which the victim lives. Most states allow 2 years to file suit in product liability cases while others vary from 1 to 4 years.

Many people want to know if there is a time limit on when they can file a talcum powder lawsuit on behalf of themselves or a loved one. Most states have deadlines or restrictions on the time you can file a lawsuit— called statutes of limitation— arising from injuries such as an auto accident, a negligent slip and fall, or a product liability case.

That also means there will be a statute of limitations for filing talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits, but the amount of time you have to file suit varies from state to state. The majority of states have a two-year statute of limitations on product liability lawsuits, but some states may allow four or more years. Kentucky allows one year.

Statutes of limitations arose from criminal law. There, they are laws that specify how far back in time prosecutors can go to bring criminal charges against a suspect. In some states, minor felonies elapse after five years. In other states, like Kentucky, there are no statute of limitations on a felony.

Just like in criminal law, neither is there uniformity in laws governing the filing of civil suits. In civil courts, the same statute of limitations concept governs – which limits the amount of time that a victim has to file a non-criminal lawsuit over an injury or wrongful death or any other civil dispute. However, some states allow one year; some states allow two years and some states allow four years. The time can be longer in cases involving contracts or fraud.

When Does the Countdown Begin for the Statute of Limitations?

The answer to when the statute of limitations deadline starts and ends can be complicated and is often subject to spirited legal challenges in court. One term often used about the statute of limitation is the date or time when you knew or should have known about the link between talc and ovarian cancer.

People who want to file civil lawsuits are often unaware of the restrictions imposed by the statute of limitations. In Kentucky, you generally have a year to bring a civil lawsuit for a personal injury.

Though you may have used talcum powder for years or even decades, the time limitation would likely not start until you or your legal representative had questions and contacted an attorney. That contact would likely include a subsequent medical records and case review.

Many cancer victims have argued that Johnson & Johnson withheld that information for years. Many victims did not learn of the link until a physician working for plaintiff’s attorneys made the connection between the specific types of ovarian cancer and talc use.

There are, however, other rules that can impact when the countdown begins in a case.

What Can Affect the Statute of Limitations?

A few factors which could start the statute of limitations “countdown” include:

  • The discovery of the cancer diagnosis and its link to talcum powder products.
  • The long latency period of diseases like ovarian cancer
  • The number of years of exposure to talcum powder.
  • The location where the exposed victim lived.

In the case of talc use, the plaintiff could have used a talc product for years or even decades before her ovarian cancer was discovered. So it would be impossible to start the statute of limitations to her first year’s use of talc and it might not even start with the first diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

Many states have instituted what is referred to as a discovery rule for starting the period of time during which a talcum powder cancer victim is eligible to file a claim within the statute of limitations.

Starting the statute of limitations with the discovery rule means that the countdown begins when you know or should have known that the talc usage is linked to the cancer diagnosis rather than when the diagnosis is first given to you.

Each case, however, is different and your attorney at the Bryant Law Center will undertake a thorough review of your case and review issues such as your medical history and locations where you have lived.

The long latency period of cancer and the number of years of exposure to dangerous chemicals can also play into the statute of limitations in a talcum powder cancer lawsuit.

Ovarian cancer may not develop until many years after someone first started using talc for daily personal hygiene. This can make it very difficult to pin down the exact moment the injury took place. This is another reason that courts use the discovery rule as one starting point for reviewing the statute of limitations.

Location can also impact the statute of limitations application in your case.. For example, if you lived most of your life in one state, but moved to another later in life, you might be subject to the laws of your legal residence state at the time you consulted an attorney.

Some states have adopted statutes of repose, however. Those laws are designed to prevent people from moving into a state with a long statute of limitations to be able to collect from lawsuits that would have been otherwise unable to file due to their previous residency.

How Can You Tell Which State’s Rules Apply to Your Case?

Generally, you would be guided by the laws in the state where you have legal residency but important questions about location and residency will be guided by your attorney or legal representative.

Questions about location could become important if you were exposed in one state and then moved to another state. Your attorney will offer guidance on eligibility to file a talcum powder suit once they review the dates of exposure, the form of cancer, and the statute of limitations.

Time is of The Essence In Talcum Powder Lawsuits

This is another reason to consult your attorney early: The five year average survival rate for the three common types of ovarian tumors is 44 percent. Early detection can greatly increase life expectancy but early detection only applies in about 15 percent of all ovarian cancer cases.

In cases of wrongful death where a person died from ovarian cancer after using talc, their estate would generally have one or two years to seek legal advice and to bring suit. Again, states have varied rules on filing such lawsuits. Some states might have different windows in which to file a personal injury lawsuit when compared to the time allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

You could also face questions about whether the bulk of exposure to talc might have occurred in a state that is not currently your legal residence.

That is why contacting an attorney at the Bryant Law Center as early as possible allows our lawyers to begin a thorough medical review of your case sooner rather than later without being pressed on time constraints. It is important for attorneys to have the time to collect all the medical records needed for your case.

Hiring an attorney also means that you have someone to help you every step of the way in your case. They can answer any question you may have about your case including how statutes of limitations may affect you and how long your case could take to settle.

For a free consultation to learn more about how an attorney at the Bryant Law Center can help you with a talcum powder lawsuit, contact us today using the form on this page.

Mark Bryant
About the Author
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