What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Tennessee?

Question

What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Tennessee?

Answer

Before we dive into the details of Tennessee’s laws, let’s take a step back explain that a “statute of limitations” is simply a state law that sets a time limit on your right to file any kind of lawsuit in court, as the potential plaintiff. These deadlines vary depending on what type of loss or harm you have suffered.

In Tennessee, there are a few different lawsuit filing rules that could come into play after a vehicle accident.

First, if anyone was injured in the accident -- whether a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian -- and they want to file a lawsuit against the person who caused the crash, Tennessee Code section 28-3-104 dictates that the injury case be filed in Tennessee’s civil court system within one year of the date of the accident.

Second, if the car accident caused someone’s death, and their family or a representative wants to bring a Tennessee wrongful death claim, that case is subject to the same one-year filing deadline. The only difference is that for these cases, the “clock” starts running on the day of the accident victim’s death, which could be later than the date of the accident itself.

Finally, if anyone had their vehicle or other property damaged as a result of a car accident in Tennessee, they must get their lawsuit filed against any potential defendant within three years of the date of the accident, according to section 28-3-105 of the Tennessee Code.

Whether it’s an injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, the case will almost certainly hinge on whether the allegedly-at-fault driver’s negligence was the cause. Learn more about Proving Fault for a Car Accident.

If you try to file your lawsuit after Tennessee’s statute of limitations deadline has passed, the defendant is sure to ask the court to dismiss the case, and the court is very likely to grant that request.

Even if you’re confident that your case will be resolved through the insurance claim process, you still want to make sure you have plenty of time to file a car accident lawsuit if you need to. At a minimum, doing so will give you more leverage during settlement negotiations. If the filing deadline is coming up, it may be time to contact an experienced Tennessee car accident attorney to make sure your legal rights are protected.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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