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What are statute of limitations rules?

| Jul 25, 2020 | Personal Injury |

Anyone who suffers an injury or deals with property damage due to someone’s negligence can file a lawsuit. A civil suit provides a potential means to recover losses. The clock does tick when it comes to filing a lawsuit. That is, the statute of limitations rules are in effect in Tennessee and elsewhere.

To ensure fairness, personal injury suits must be filed within an established time limit. Once that time limit expires, the injured party’s right to sue is gone. In Tennessee, the statute of limitations for personal injury suits is one year when it involves injury to a person. Regarding injury to personal property, the statute of limitations is three years. Defamation-related suits are a bit different. While libel is one year, slander is only six months.

Other factors may impact the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations rules are different for minors than they are for adults. With minors, the statute of limitations starts when he or she turns 18.

Also factoring into the statute of limitations is the “discovery of harm” rule. The rule suspends the statute of limitations until someone discovers or should have reasonably discovered the injury. A person could suffer an injury due to someone’s negligence but might not be aware of the injury until much later. For example, a worker exposed to toxic substances could have developed an ailment on the job but did not learn of the illness until seeing a doctor 15 months after exposure. In this instance, the one-year statute of limitations may be extended by the court.

A personal injury attorney could explain the state’s rules about the statute of limitations to a client. The attorney may be able to file a suit before the time limit expires. The attorney might seek punitive damages as well as compensatory ones. Such could be the case in many different personal injury suits.