If you sustain injuries in an accident you did not cause, you might consider pursuing legal action. In Tennessee, you have very little time to do so thanks to the statute of limitations for personal injury cases. The statute provides you with only one year to file a lawsuit. Otherwise, you could completely lose your legal right to recover compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional damages.
The Tennessee injury attorneys of Batson Nolan PLC understand the importance of moving quickly to pursue a claim. Whether you sustained injuries in a car accident, motorcycle accident, boating accident, or any other type of accident that someone else caused, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. We help protect your legal right to get justice for your injuries and recover the compensation you deserve for your damages.
What Is the Statute of Limitation for Personal Injury Cases in Tennessee?
The Tennessee statute of limitations for injury cases (Tennessee Code Section 28-3-104) gives you only one year to pursue legal action. Typically, you have one year from the date of the accident in which you sustained injuries. In some cases, if you did not discover your injury immediately, you may have one year from the date you discovered your injury.
Tennessee’s statute of limitations is the shortest in the United States. Most states allow personal injury victims two years or more to file a lawsuit. Because Tennessee’s limitation is so short, you must take action immediately after an accident if you want to retain your right to recover compensation.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that places limits on the amount of time before which legal action is barred. In a personal injury case, legal action typically involves pursuing a claim, negotiating with the insurance company, and if negotiations fail you typically file a civil lawsuit. But again, that lawsuit must be filed within a year after the incident.
The purpose of these laws is, in part, to protect potential defendants from facing false or abusive claims made after an unreasonable amount of time. These laws also help compel injured parties to act while evidence remains fresh. Over time, evidence degrades. This could potentially prevent the accused party from mounting an adequate defense.
When Does the Tennessee Personal Injury Statute of Limitation Apply?
This limitation applies to anyone who sustained injuries due to the wrongful actions of another party. In most personal injury cases, someone’s negligence led to an accident in which the victim suffered injuries and other damages. The clock begins on the date of the injury accident.
If you have not filed a lawsuit in the applicable civil court within one year of that date, you will likely lose your legal right to recover compensation. If you file a suit after the clock has run out, the defendant will file a motion to dismiss your case. Most courts will grant that motion unless you have a compelling reason for not having filed within the statutorily allotted time.
The statute of limitations typically applies to victims who were hurt in accidents or incidents such as the following.
- Auto vehicle accidents,
- Trucking accidents,
- Boating accidents,
- Motor vehicle accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Product liability, and
- Premises liability.
If you aren’t sure when the clock officially starts running on your personal injury claim, talking to an attorney is the best way to protect your legal rights.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitation for Personal Injury Cases in Tennessee
The Tennessee statute of limitation provides few exceptions. However, in some cases, you could have longer to file your lawsuit. These exceptions, should they apply to your case, allow you to “toll” the statute of limitations. When you toll the statute, you essentially stop the clock on the limitation until the exception can be resolved. The exceptions that may apply in some cases include the following.
If the victim was under age 18, the statute of limitation does not begin to run immediately. Once the victim reaches age 18, they have one year to bring legal action.
Victim with Mental Disability
Accident victims who are considered to have a pre-existing mental disability (not related to their injury accident) may be able to toll the statute under some circumstances. Specifically, if a victim cannot understand their legal rights as they apply to their injuries, they may toll the statute until they regain the ability to understand those rights.
To bring a valid legal action, you must serve notice to the at-fault party based on the requirements of the Tennessee statutes. If you cannot complete service of process, you may have grounds to toll the statute. You will have to make a good faith effort to locate the defendant. However, you may be able to toll the statute until they can be found.
The Discovery Rule
The discovery rule states that the statute of limitations shall not begin to run until an injury victim becomes aware—or should have become aware—of their injury. This sometimes occurs in medical malpractice cases. However, the discovery rule does not often apply in the case of motor vehicle collisions and other types of accidents.
You should never assume that any exception will apply to your case. Otherwise, you could forfeit your right to take action. Contact a legal practitioner as soon as possible after an injury to learn how the statute of limitations applies to your situation.
Contact a Tennessee Injury Lawyer Today
The experienced injury lawyers of Batson Nolan PLC, understand the importance of acting quickly after an accident. We begin immediately by investigating your case and gathering evidence. In most cases, we can successfully negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. However, if we cannot obtain an acceptable settlement, we can pursue your case in court.
Our firm has more than 150 years of experience. Our experienced litigators handle every aspect of your case. This leaves you free to focus on your recovery. We protect your legal rights and help get the best possible outcome for you. Contact us now to learn more, or to schedule a consultation to discuss the statute of limitation for personal injury cases in Tennessee.