Whatever type of accident you are involved in, you must file a legal claim within a specific time period. In most states, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years. However, in Tennessee, the personal injury statute of limitations is just one year.
Some exceptions may apply, but if you do not file your claim within the statute of limitations period, you will lose all right to hold the defendants liable and all rights to compensation from responsible defendants – even if you have an excellent case.
Filing a claim means filing a lawsuit or other legal notice with the appropriate state or federal court. Filing a claim with your insurance company or with the insurance companies for any of the defendants does not count. Discussing the merits of the case with the insurance companies does not count.
It is highly recommended to have a skilled personal injury lawyer file the claim for you. Even more importantly, you should never settle a claim or lawsuit without speaking to a respected personal injury lawyer. The insurance company is not your friend. They want to pay as little as they can. You should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after any accident to preserve your rights, to ensure you file your legal claim within the statute of limitations, and to help present the strongest case possible.
What is the standard statute of limitations in Tennessee for personal injury claims?
Tennessee law states that except for certain criminal tort cases, the following actions must be started within one (1) year from the date the cause of action accrued: “Actions for libel, injuries to the person, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, or breach of marriage promise.”
Generally, the cause of action date for any type of personal injury action is the date of the accident. This applies to injuries sustained in incidents involving:
- A vehicle accident. The cause of action is the date of the crash. You must file your claim with the appropriate court within one year of the date of the accident. This deadline applies to car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and other vehicle accidents.
- A premises liability accident. If you slip and fall, you’re attacked, or you suffer any other injury while on somebody else’s property; you must file your premises liability claim within one year from the date of the accident.
- Product liability. The Tennessee personal injury statute specifically states that in product liability claims:
- The cause of action for injury to the person shall accrue on the date of the personal injury, not the date of the negligence or the sale of a product.
- No person shall be deprived of the right to maintain a cause of action until one (1) year from the date of the injury; and
- Under no circumstances shall the cause of action be barred before the person sustains an injury.
The one-year statute for personal injury due to the use of dangerous drugs and devices or nursing home abuse and neglect is also one year from the date of the negligent action. Since these types of injuries may take time to develop and time to discover, additional considerations need to be reviewed by our seasoned personal injury lawyers to determine the proper statute of limitations deadline.
What exceptions the statute of limitations rule may apply?
Each case is unique. You should review the statute of limitations deadline with our experienced personal injury lawyers. These possible exceptions include the following:
- The personal injury victim is a minor. Generally, a child who is injured in a car accident or any other accident can wait until they turn 18 before the statute of limitations begins to run. For example, if a 16-year-old is injured in a car accident, he/she has until the age of 19 to file an injury action. There is no requirement to wait, however. Normally, a parent or legal guardian can file a personal injury claim on behalf of a minor.
- The discovery rule. In some medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations may not begin to run until the victim knows or should have known that their medical treatment resulted in an injury. Many victims of medical malpractice may not discover the harm until they begin to experience symptoms. Under Tennessee law, victims have one year from the date of discovery of the injury, but no longer than three years after the malpractice occurred. However, there are exceptions in certain cases.
- The responsible parties are absent from the state after the accident. This may occur if, for example, a driver who caused your injuries was from Kentucky or any state other than Tennessee. In these cases, the statute of limitations may not begin until the defendant is located.
Other circumstances may toll the statute of limitations; however, these exceptions are few and far between.
Please also note, that there are much shorter time limits for filing a claim against any governmental entity or agency. It is crucial you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after any injury that was not your fault to ensure you do not miss any important deadlines.
At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, our personal injury lawyers have earned the respect of former clients, insurance companies, and defense lawyers for our strong record of success in personal injury cases. In one case, we recovered 1.2 million dollars for clients in a multiparty car accident caused by an intoxicated driver. We’ll explain your rights and aggressively pursue your claim – starting with filing your claim as promptly as possible after you contact us.
To hold responsible defendants in personal injury and wrongful death cases accountable for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages, call us or fill out our contact form to arrange a free consultation. We file personal injury claims in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding Tennessee areas.
Attorney Bryan E. Delius was born and raised in Sevier County, TN. He founded Delius & McKenzie more than 20 years ago, after receiving his JD from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is admitted in Tennessee and in several federal court systems. Learn more about Bryan E. Delius.