Are There Time Limits in an Auto Accident?

A motor vehicle collision can cause serious, even fatal, injuries to the occupants of a vehicle. Often, the emotional impact of the crash is as serious as the physical injuries suffered by the victim. As a result, in the aftermath of an accident a victim typically focuses on healing physically and emotionally from the trauma. If you are in this situation, litigation may not be at the forefront of your mind at the moment; however, you should take some time to consult with an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney to ensure that you do not lose your right to recover damages for the injuries you suffered by waiting too long after the accident to pursue compensation. Although Tennessee law does allow a victim to recover compensation from a negligent party the law also limits the time a victim has to pursue that compensation.

In Tennessee, the victim of an auto accident may be entitled to compensation if another party caused, or contributed to, the collision. Examples of situations where another party might be found at fault include:

  • A drunk driver that strays over the center line into oncoming traffic
  • A truck driver driving too fast for road conditions who jackknifes, causing a collision
  • A driver who is texting while driving and fails to stop at a light
  • A fatigued driver who drifts into your lane of traffic causing a crash.

These are but a few of the situations in which another party might be liable for damages you suffered in a Tennessee motor vehicle accident. If another party is found at fault you could be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages includes things like medical bills and lost wages while non-economic damages are what people commonly refer to as “pain and suffering” or “loss of enjoyment of life”. Your right to compensation, however, could be lost if you wait too long to pursue the matter.

In Tennessee, the statute of limitations is only one year for personal injury accidents. A statute of limitations, or SOL, is the time frame within which a claim must be settled or a lawsuit must be filed to preserve your right of action. Failing to file within the SOL means you will lose your right to file at all. The case does not have to be concluded within a year but the lawsuit must be filed within a year from the date of the accident.

Sometimes, a defendant will intentionally try to drag out “negotiations” past the SOL date. When successful, the defendant prevents the victim from obtaining any compensation for the victim’s injuries. To ensure that this does not happen to you be sure to consult with an experienced Tennessee personal injury auto accident attorney as soon after the collision as possible.

Stan Bennett