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The Statute of Limitations: Everything You Need to Know

Advice from Tennessee personal injury attorneys on how to avoid running out of time pursuing your claim

Unforeseen damages and injuries resulting from a car accident, medical malpractice, or other types of personal injury cases can last a lifetime. However, there is only a small window of opportunity for a victim to file a claim. The policy responsible for closing that window is known as the Statute of Limitations.

The first question that needs to be answered about the Statute of Limitations is what it is. In essence, the statutes are guidelines that limit how long a plaintiff can wait to take legal action before the claim expires. The actual amount of time claimants have to file a claim depends on the type of case and vary by state. Some lawsuits are exempted from the Statute of Limitations altogether.

It is important to be aware of your state's policy when it comes to how long you have to file a lawsuit. If your claim falls outside the designated time frame, as specified by the Statute of Limitations, your case will automatically be nullified.

Why is it necessary?

At its core, the Statute of Limitations is instituted simply to ensure a fair trial. Memories and events can easily be forgotten, mixed up, or misinterpreted over time, which can compromise primary evidence that could be key in establishing a verdict.

Also, the statutes are in effect to alleviate the burden on the court system. If personal injury cases from 20 years ago were still being brought to court now, the system would be lagged down from dealing with too many cases — many of which would not have sufficient evidence to make a ruling on.

Furthermore, the Statute of Limitations is supported for three reasons:

  • A plaintiff with good causes of actions should pursue them with reasonable diligence
  • A defendant might have lost evidence to disprove a stale claim
  • Long dormant claims have more of cruelty than justice in them

When does the Statute of Limitations take effect?

The specific time limit for filing a claim depends on what type of case it is and which state the claim is being filed in. As a general rule, the law gives the plaintiff at least 1 year in which to file a claim before it expires.

Here are some of the more common civil cases and their Statute of Limitations in Tennessee :

  • Personal Injury — 1 year from date of injury
  • Product Liability — 1 year from date of injury
  • Wrongful death — 1 year from date of death
  • Negligence — 1 year from date of discovery
  • Medical Malpractice — 1 year from date on injury, or 1 year from date foreign object was discovered
  • Injury to personal property — 3 years
  • Oral agreement/breach of contract — 6 years

Laws regarding Statute of Limitations are frequently subject to change, so even individual state laws may vary from year to year.

Where can I learn more?

The most reliable way to check out the most updated laws on the Statute of Limitations is to visit your state's website. You may also consider getting in touch with a personal injury attorney licensed in the state where your injury occurred. This attorney will be able to tell you if your claim falls under legal guidelines in their jurisdiction.

How should I proceed?

The single most important thing to understand about when to file a claim is that speed is essential. Although the Statute of Limitations gives you a year or more to submit your case, attorneys spend much of that time compiling information to win your case.

If you feel that you may have case, do not delay in contacting an attorney who specializes in your claim. The sooner you assign a lawyer to your case, the better chance you have of receiving thorough and successful legal representation.

Our personal injury attorneys in Nashville are happy to answer any questions you may have about the Statute of Limitations, and discuss the details of your case. Give Gilreath & Associates a call today.

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