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How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury in TN?

If someone in Tennessee gets injured in a car accident because of the fault of another driver, they can file a lawsuit against them. However, victims have a limited time to file their claims in Tennessee.

In fact, Tennessee has one of the shortest statutes of limitations in the country, which gives the victims only one year to file their lawsuit for damages. This is a very small window, considering the fact that even a simple car accident case often requires a lot of time and effort to litigate. Although there are some exceptions to the one-year rule that might allow you more time to prepare your case, these exceptions are rare. Therefore, we recommended starting your case as soon as possible to ensure that you get the compensation that you are entitled to.

Contact Howe Law by calling (844) 876-4357 for a free case analysis with our Tennessee car accident lawyers.

How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim in Tennessee?

The statute of limitations is a legal concept that sets a time limit on how long a victim can file a lawsuit after being injured in a car accident in Tennessee. Tennessee has one of the shortest time limits in the country, with car accident victims having only one year from the date of their injury to file a lawsuit against a negligent party in Tennessee, as stipulated in T.C.A. § 28-3-104. It is essential to understand that failure to file a lawsuit within this one-year window can result in the loss of your right to recover compensation for your injuries.

Filing your lawsuit within the one-year time frame is crucial because, after the statute of limitations passes, you might no longer be able to recover compensation. If your case is filed after the statute of limitations expires, the defendant’s lawyers will file a motion to dismiss the case, which the court will grant unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Another reason to initiate your case quickly is to preserve the evidence you will need to prove your claim. Evidence can become lost, destroyed, or irrelevant over time, and if it is not promptly procured after an accident, you might have nothing to support your claims.

It is, therefore, crucial to speak with our team as soon as possible to ensure that your lawsuit is filed within the required time frame. Otherwise, your case will need to fall under one of the rare exceptions in order to be filed with the court.

What Situations Will Give Me More Time to File a Car Accident Claim in Tennessee?

Tennessee’s statute of limitations, like any law, has exceptions. These exceptions are specific situations outlined by Tennessee law, which delay the statute of limitations until a particular time. This, in turn, gives you a little more time to file your lawsuit. Our Tennessee car accident attorneys can help you determine if you qualify for an exception if the statute of limitations has passed in your case. However, these situations are not common, so it is best to start your claim as soon as possible.

Minor and Incompetent Claimants

One of the most common exceptions is for individuals who were under the age of 18 when their injuries occurred. According to T.C.A. § 28-1-106, the statute of limitations for such cases will not begin to run until the minor child reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years. After reaching 18 years of age, these individuals will have one year to file their lawsuit.

This law also applies to victims who are considered legally incompetent and cannot file within the allotted time. However, proving legal incompetence can be a challenging task, and it might require evidence such as being involuntarily hospitalized at the time.

Injury Discovered Later

If you have been involved in a car accident, it is likely that you will need to seek medical attention from various healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, there might be instances where a medical professional fails to provide the standard level of care that is typical of their practice. In such cases, you might be entitled to sue the negligent healthcare provider for damages.

One of the most common issues in medical malpractice cases is determining when the malpractice occurred. Some injuries might not be evident for months or even years after the medical treatment, extending beyond the one-year time limit for filing a lawsuit. To address this issue, Tennessee has implemented the “discovery rule.” According to T.C.A. § 29-26-116, victims have one year from the date they discovered or should have known about their injuries to file a lawsuit.

However, the law also places a hard cap of three years for victims to discover if medical malpractice occurred. This means that regardless of when the victim discovers the injury, the lawsuit must be filed within three years of the medical treatment that caused the injury.

The Defendant is Not in Tennessee

The statute of limitations might also be affected by the residency of the at-fault driver. If the driver responsible for your injuries lives outside of the state, the clock might not begin ticking on the time limit until they return. However, it is crucial to keep track of the defendant’s whereabouts, as the time limit will start running as soon as they come back.

Fraudulent Concealment

It is uncommon, but there might be instances where a defendant intentionally withholds evidence in an effort to exploit the statute of limitations and avoid legal repercussions. However, if this kind of misconduct is proven in court, the time limit might not be held against you.

Additionally, the court is likely to impose penalties on the other party for their wrongful behavior. These penalties could include an increase in the compensation the court awards you, ensuring that you receive adequate compensation for the damages you have suffered.

Criminal Charges Preceded Your Civil Case

If criminal charges are filed against the driver, your civil lawsuit might have to wait. In such situations, you will have a two-year time period from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit. If the driver is convicted in the criminal case, the evidence of their conviction might be used in your civil case to support your claim for damages.

Death was Involved

If you lose a loved one in a car accident, you might have only one year to file a lawsuit. However, it is not always possible to file within this time frame, as a loved one’s passing is not always immediate. In some cases, the statute of limitations might be extended for another 120 days, or the court might set a specific start date for the limitations period to begin at the time of death.

Our Tennessee Car Accident Attorneys Can Help You File Your Claim Before the Deadline Passes

For a free case review with our Tennessee personal injury lawyers, contact Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.

We've Recovered Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for Victims

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