If you have suffered an injury in an auto accident that was caused by somebody else, then you may be able to file a lawsuit with the help of an auto accident injury lawyer in Knoxville. However, it is important that you understand the statute of limitations that applies to these claims in the state of Tennessee.
What is Statute of Limitations
If you have never filed a lawsuit before, you may not have heard the term statute of limitations before. With that in mind, let’s start by explaining what it means. A statute of limitations is the period of time during which a lawsuit can be filed. This is in place to make sure the injured party does not delay filing their claim and to make sure the defendant is not subject to a legal claim in perpetuity.
Tennessee Statute of Limitations
Statute of limitations vary from one state to the next. In Tennessee, the statute of limitations for an auto accident lawyer in Knoxville to file a personal injury lawsuit is one year from the car accident date. This is the same length of time that applies to any type of personal injury lawsuit in Tennessee. This applies to any compensation you might be seeking for your injuries. However, you may also want to seek compensation for damages to your property, which is likely to be your vehicle, in the case of an auto accident. The statute of limitations for property damage in Tennessee is three years from the accident date.
Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
There are some exceptions that may apply to the statute of limitations, and your auto accident injury lawyer in Knoxville should be able to advise you if any of them will apply in your case. However, some of the most common exceptions involve minors and persons of unsound mind.
- Minors - In cases where the injured party is a minor, the statute of limitations can be tolled until they reach age 18. That means the statute of limitations will not kick in until that date, and they will have one year from their 18th birthday to file for personal injury or three years for property damage.
- Unsound Mind - If the injured party is found to be of unsound mind, the statute of limitations can be delayed until they have recovered mentally. At this point, the statute of limitations would commence under the usual time frames.
Extensions Under the Date of Discovery Rule
In a personal injury lawsuit, it is possible to extend the statute of limitations if the injury was not discovered immediately. In these cases, the clock begins on the date of discovery. However, this can be difficult to prove in an auto accident case since most people would get checked out by a doctor on the day of the accident to document any injuries. It is more common in medical malpractice and other personal injury cases. One example would be if a patient discovered that a medical instrument had been left inside their body over a year later during a procedure.
What Happens if The Statute of Limitations Expires?
If you do not file your personal injury lawsuit within the statute of limitations, it will most likely prevent you from recovering damages for your injuries or property damage. Although your auto accident injury lawyer in Knoxville can still file a lawsuit, the defendant would likely file a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the statute of limitations has expired. It is important to be aware of the time frame you have to file your lawsuit and engage the services of an auto accident injury lawyer in Knoxville soon after your accident.
Other Statute of Limitations
So far, we have discussed how the statute of limitations in Tennessee applies to auto accidents. However, different types of lawsuits may have a longer statute of limitations. Here is a brief summary of the statute of limitations for other lawsuits, bearing in mind some of them may have possible exceptions in some circumstances.
- Personal injury has a one-year statute of limitations from the time of injury or time of discovery.
- Professional Malpractice has a one-year statute of limitations
- Contract Disputes have a six-year statute of limitations
- Debt Collection Claims have a six-year statute of limitations
- Criminal Misdemeanors usually have a one-year statute of limitations
- There is no statute of limitations for murder
Hopefully, this has given you a good idea about how the statutes of limitations work for auto accidents in Tennessee. Your auto accident injury lawyer in Knoxville will help to guide you through the process, but it is important to speak with one as soon as possible following your accident.
Butler, Vines and Babb is a leading law firm in Knoxville, TN, with extensive litigation experience in Medical Malpractice Law, Birth Injury Law, Trucking Accident Law, Personal Injury Law, and Business Law. Contact us today at www.bvblaw.com or call 865-637-3531.
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