If you were injured and another party was at fault, you may be wondering what the Tennessee statute of limitations for personal injury cases is if you’re considering suing that individual or entity. You may be able to collect compensation that could cover a variety of expenses that have piled up as a result of your injury, such as medical bills and lost income. However, if you wish to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you need to be aware of Tennessee’s relevant laws to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible. An experienced attorney can help you with this.
At Morgan & Morgan, we are always available to help and will make sure that your case is handled appropriately and on time. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free consultation.
Tennessee Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Case
The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, the time limit in which you can file a claim begins from the date of your injury. U.S. states differ in their statutes of limitations, with some states allowing just one year to file, while others allow up to six years. Tennessee’s statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is one of the states that allows just one year, so if you have been injured and you are seeking damages, you must file as soon as possible to ensure you can receive compensation.
Common Causes of Personal Injuries
You may be wondering if your situation constitutes a personal injury. It is important to know if you’re even able to file a lawsuit before you begin the process. There are a variety of accidents that may cause personal injuries that will allow you to file a lawsuit.
One of the most common causes of personal injuries is car accidents. In 2021 alone, there were approximately 6.75 million nonfatal car-related accidents in the U.S. Additionally, almost 2 million drivers are permanently disabled by car accidents annually.
Slip and fall accidents are also incredibly common. Over 1 million Americans suffer from a slip and fall accident each year. Some slip and fall accidents, especially falls from heights, can result in serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries and fractures of the leg, spine, hip, forearm, pelvis, ankle, hand, and upper arm.
One other common cause of personal injuries is from the use of defective products. This can include dangerous pharmaceuticals, defective machinery, poor product design, manufacturing errors in products, and many other instances of defects in the items we use every day.
Another cause of personal injuries is medical malpractice. The types of medical malpractice vary greatly, but the more common instances are childbirth injuries, prescription drug mistakes, surgical or procedural errors, failure to properly treat a condition, and a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
While these are some of the most common causes of personal injury, this is not an exhaustive list. If you are unsure if your particular situation can qualify as a personal injury, it would be in your best interest to contact a personal injury lawyer for a consultation.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Tennessee is one of the states that allows the shortest amount of time in which to file a lawsuit, being just one year. However, there are a few exceptions to the one-year deadline in Tennessee.
One such exception is if the victim of the injury is a minor (under 18 years of age) or has been “adjudicated incompetent.” Adjudicated incompetence simply means that the individual is unable or unfit in some way to manage their own affairs due to a mental condition that is determined in a court proceeding. In such a case, the injured party will either have one year upon reaching the age of 18 to file their personal injury lawsuit, or they have one year once they are deemed competent again.
Another instance where the statute of limitations may be extended is if the at-fault party no longer resides in Tennessee or is otherwise absent from Tennessee after the accident occurred but before the lawsuit is filed. This period of absence is typically not counted in the one-year statute of limitations.
Finally, the statute of limitations could be extended if the at-fault party has criminal charges filed against them after the accident occurred. In this case, the personal injury lawsuit deadline may be extended to two years.
When in doubt, it is best to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you believe there may be an exception to the statute of limitations.
What Happens if You Miss the Deadline?
Unfortunately, if you miss the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit, you will forfeit the right to any compensation in almost all cases. Even if you are able to file a lawsuit, the defendant will certainly be able to file a motion to dismiss the case. The only way you may be able to circumvent the statute of limitations is in some of the exceptions listed above. It is imperative to file the lawsuit in a timely manner so you can still receive damages.
How Do I Prove Negligence?
If you have filed your lawsuit in a timely manner and the suit proceeds to court, you may be wondering what the next steps are. You and your lawyer, should you choose to hire one, must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached this duty of care, directly caused your injury, and that you experienced some type of loss due to the injury incurred.
Of note, it is important to understand that you may be deemed partially at fault for your personal injury. Tennessee has a modified comparative negligence rule, which means that you can still collect damages as long as you are not more than 49% at fault for your accident. As long as you can prove that the defendant was over 50% at fault for your personal injury, you will be able to collect damages. However, be aware that if you are deemed partially at fault, any compensation you are awarded through a trial will decrease by your percentage of fault. For instance, if your settlement amount totals $30,000, but the court deems you 25% at fault for your accident, then you would receive $22,500.
What Compensation Can I Recover?
If you are able to prove that the other party was negligent and you win your case, you will receive compensation in the form of economic and non-economic damages. In some cases, you may also be able to receive punitive damages, though receiving this type of compensation is rare.
Economic damages include monetary losses, such as past, present, and future medical bills and expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, loss of benefits, and property damages. If you work with an attorney, they can calculate the number of damages to ask for based on documentation and estimates.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses, such as pain and suffering. This is more difficult to calculate. While there are a variety of ways you can calculate these damages on your own, it may be best to work with a skilled attorney who has experience in determining this type of loss.
Punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim but are used in order to punish the at-fault party who caused the injury to deter their behavior in the future. Typically, these are reserved for particularly egregious cases, such as a defendant who maliciously, recklessly, or intentionally caused a personal injury. It is important to note that in Tennessee, there is a cap on the total amount of punitive damages that may be awarded. Awards either have a limit of two times the total amount of damages awarded, or $500,000, whichever number is higher.
Should I Work With an Attorney?
While it may seem obvious to you that you did not cause your accident, and another party did, there are many other factors to consider when filing a personal injury lawsuit. You must consider whether your situation would be considered to be a personal injury before filing a claim. You also must consider the statute of limitations, and whether your lawsuit falls under the exception categories.
If you do file in time and your suit proceeds to court, it would be beneficial to have an attorney who can navigate the complex criminal justice system on your behalf. There are a variety of elements required in order to prove negligence, and an attorney will have the knowledge of relevant laws to do so. They will also be able to gather important evidence to prove the at-fault party’s negligence, such as medical documentation, witness testimony, and photographs of the accident, depending on the type of incident that occurred.
Working with an attorney also ensures that you receive the maximum amount of compensation. A qualified lawyer will know how to calculate economic and non-economic damages and negotiate the highest amount of compensation for you.
Contact Morgan & Morgan Today
If you were injured and another party was at fault, you may be wondering what the Tennessee statute of limitations for personal injury cases is. Hiring an experienced attorney will ensure that your case is handled appropriately and in a timely manner. Morgan & Morgan is the largest personal injury firm in America and is always available to help. We have lawyers throughout the state of Tennessee who would be pleased to assist you. Throughout our career, we have recovered more than ten billion dollars for our clients. Do not wait to reach out to an attorney for a consultation on your personal injury lawsuit. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free consultation.