When someone is injured in a traffic accident, it can be overwhelming to make decisions. For some, this may mean putting off filing a claim to pursue compensation for the injuries and other damages you may have suffered.
Greg Coleman Law explains Tennessee’s statute of limitations and talks about some of the truths and misconceptions people may have about what this law means in a personal injury claim.
If you need legal assistance following an injury caused by someone else, we welcome the opportunity to help. In the free, no-obligation legal consultation that we offer, we can discuss the incident that caused your injuries and explain more about the statute of limitations as it may apply to your potential claim. We charge nothing up front, and only collect payment for our fees if we obtain compensation on your behalf.
What is Tennessee’s Statute of Limitations?
Injured victims who wish to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit must first file a complaint requesting compensation for damages through their county courthouse. The statute of limitations is the state law that defines how long injured victims have to file this claim. Tennessee's statute of limitations has one of the shortest windows for filing in the country, giving injured victims just one year from the date of the accident or injury to file a complaint.
Are There Exceptions To When I Have to File?
There are exceptions to the statute of limitations, however, we do not recommend relying on that possibility. More often than not, the standard deadline applies.
Though not exhaustive, a couple of exceptions to the statute of limitations include:
- Filing a claim for a minor - Although parents can file on behalf of a child, if the victim is a minor, the clock may be tolled (paused) until the victim’s 18th birthday. The victim will then have one year from the date of his or her birthday to file a claim to recover damages.
- Filing for mentally incapacitated victims - In a situation where the victim is declared mentally incapacitated, the deadline may be tolled for one full year following the date his or her mental competence is declared restored.
There may be other exceptions, such as if your claim is against a government entity. We strongly recommend that you seek legal help from a qualified attorney as soon after an accident as possible to help protect the value of your potential claim. The longer you wait, the greater the possibility of missing your cut-off date. Your attorney can help you determine what filing deadline may apply to your claim.
The Statute of Limitations is the Total Time Limit For My Claim
The idea that the statute of limitations is the total time limit for a personal injury case is a common misconception. Personal injury lawsuits do not have a set "end date," and can continue for months to several years, depending on how complicated the case is, along with many other considerations, such as:
- The time it takes for a victim to achieve maximum recovery from his or her injuries
- How much evidence the plaintiff may be able to provide
- How many parties are involved in the lawsuit
- How long it takes to reach a settlement with the insurance company
- Whether the case proceeds to trial
While your attorney cannot tell you how long your case may take to finish, he or she can help you understand what your filing deadline is and whether you may be eligible to pursue compensation following an act of negligence that caused you harm.
My Car Crash Case Could Have multiple deadlines
This statement is true, but it does vary on a case-to-case basis. Some car accidents may be more complex than others and involve several parties and multiple claims. In cases like these, you could have more than one statute of limitations that applies to your case. Having a knowledgeable lawyer on your side and protecting your legal interests, especially while you are trying to recover from your injuries, can be beneficial to your claim and give you peace of mind.
If I miss my deadline, I have no options for claiming compensation
Unfortunately, this is not a myth, but a fact. If you miss your filing deadline, you could be tossing away any chance of recouping the damages that you suffered as the result of another’s negligence. This is why it is so important to contact an experienced attorney to find out whether you may have a valid claim and if so, what filing deadline applies.
How Will An Attorney Benefit My Personal Injury Claim?
Seeking legal help soon after an accident helps to ensure you remember more important details that could help strengthen your claim. Our Knoxville personal injury lawyers are prepared to review the circumstances of your accident, including the date and location of where it happened and what other parties may be involved. After reviewing all the information unique to your accident, your attorney will be able to:
- Determine whether you have grounds for legal action
- Confirm the statute of limitations that applies in your situation
You are not obligated to move forward after this meeting, but if you retain our services, we are prepared to fully investigate your accident, determine what party or parties may be liable, preserve and gather evidence, and fully handle every aspect of your case. We charge you nothing up front, and we do not get paid our fees unless we first obtain a verdict or settlement on your behalf.
Call Greg Coleman Law for legal help today: (865) 247-0080