Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in Tennessee
Posted on behalf of Greg Coleman Law on May 31, 2017 in Auto Accident
A traffic collision in Tennessee can happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Although you may be facing expensive medical bills or recovering from an injury, you will need to act quickly to pursue a claim.
Each state has its own deadline to bring a civil claim and pursue damages after a car accident, referred to as the statute of limitations. You must file your claim within the statute of limitations for it to be valid.
The Knoxville car accident lawyers at Greg Coleman Law will work to ensure your claim meets each of Tennessee’s statute of limitations that are required.
Deadlines to File a Car Accident Injury Claim
If you are seeking to file a lawsuit after a car accident, you will file a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Tennessee is one year from the date the accident occurred, according to TN Code § 28-3-104.
If you fail to meet this one-year deadline, the court will consider your claim invalid and you will be barred from pursuing compensation you deserve. Any civil action you attempt after the deadline has passed will likely be dismissed by the court.
However, there are certain exceptions in which the statute of limitations for car accident claims may be altered.
The Discovery Rule
Certain injuries may not be immediately apparent after an accident. In this situation, the statute of limitations would be delayed and begin on the date in which the victim discovered the injury or should have reasonably known of its existence.
This is referred to as the “discovery rule.” Tennessee courts use this rule to extend the one-year statute of limitations to begin on the date of the victim’s diagnosis rather than on the date of the accident.
Delaying or Tolling the Statute
Tennessee will delay the statute of limitations for car accident injury claims if the victim is unable to legally or competently represent himself or herself.
This practice, known as “tolling,” is an exception provided to victims who are under the age of 18 or have been declared mentally incompetent.
The statute of limitations for victims under the age of 18 will be delayed until the victim’s 18th birthday. Once this date is reached, the victim will have one year to bring a claim against the at-fault driver.
A car accident victim who suffers from a disability that deprives him or her of the ability to make sound decisions concerning legal action may be ruled mentally incompetent by a Tennessee court.
Individuals with such conditions will have the statute of limitations for their car accident claim tolled until the court decides the victim has recovered from his or her disability. The victim then has one year form that date to bring an injury claim.
However, the state of a mentally disabled or incompetent individual is often difficult to determine. Our car accident attorneys recommend you schedule a free consultation to discuss this action if it relates to your claim.
A wrongful death claim can be filed in the event that an accident victim dies from his or her injuries. This type of civil action is allowed only if the decedent would have been able to file a personal injury claim based on the circumstances of the car accident.
In Tennessee, the initial right to file a wrongful death claim belongs to the decedent’s surviving spouse. If the decedent does not have a surviving spouse, the following parties have a right to file a claim:
- The surviving children or next of kin
- The personal representative of the decedent’s estate
- The decedent’s surviving parents, if the decedent was dependent on his or her parents at the time of death
- The administrator of the decedent’s estate, if the decedent was as a dependent at the time of his or her death
All wrongful death claims must be filed within one year of the decedent’s death.
Damage to Property
In Tennessee, any claim concerning property damage must be filed within three years of the accident date.
A property claim should include all damages your vehicle sustained, as well as any personal property lost in the accident.
If you are filing a claim for property damage, you should obtain an accurate estimate of the costs to fully repair your vehicle. You should also receive an appraisal for any damaged items of personal property that might have been in your vehicle during the accident.
This information should be included with your claim to help ensure you recover the compensation you need to repair or replace your damaged property.
Claims Involving Municipalities in Tennessee
Bringing a claim against a government entity requires you follow a set of standards that are different from taking civil action against a private citizen.
Municipalities in Tennessee and their elected officials and employees are immune to civil action that relates to governmental or proprietary actions under TCA § 29-20-310.
However, one of the few exceptions to this rule is a claim arising from the negligent operation of a motor vehicle. This means that a municipality in Tennessee can be liable for your accident if it was caused by a government official or employee.
If your accident was caused by something other than the negligent use of a motor vehicle, and the county is ruled to be immune from a lawsuit, you may still be able to hold the official or employee liable if the individual’s negligence caused your accident.
If you file a claim against a government entity, you will only be able to recover compensation up to the liability limits outlined in TCA § 29-20-101:
- $300,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in one accident
- $700,000 for bodily injury or death of all people in one accident
- $100,000 for property damage in one accident
Any claim brought against a municipality in Tennessee, or one of its employees or elected officials, must be filed within one year after of the date the accident occurred.
Contact a Reliable Car Accident Lawyer
A car accident claim often involves intricate knowledge of the law and can be complicated and overwhelming for inexperienced victims recovering from an injury.
To ensure the validity of your claim, contact Greg Coleman Law’s Knoxville personal injury lawyers for reliable and experienced legal representation.
We understand the difficulties you are facing, which is why we provide our initial consultation for free and with no obligation to hire our firm.
We provide all of our services on a contingency fee basis. This means you owe us nothing upfront. The only time we require payment is after we recover damages for your claim.
Complete our Free Case Evaluation form to get started today.