For civil cases and procedures, such as lawsuits and judgments, states impose time limits called a "statute of limitations." For instance, an injured person must file a lawsuit within a certain period of time after the time of the incident that caused the injury. If you fail to do so, you automatically forfeit your right to file suit; but states also accommodate for the fact that injuries may not be discovered until much later. Criminal law has a similar set of time limits, also referred to as the statute of limitations.
In Tennessee, as in other states, these time limits vary for different kinds of civil actions. For example, plaintiffs have one year in which to file a lawsuit for personal injury, three years for lawsuits involving personal property, and six years for the collection of rent and debts.
The following is a summary of Tennessee's civil statutes of limitations, with additional links to related resources.
|Injury to Person||1 yr. §28-3-104(a)(1)|
|Libel/Slander||Libel: 1 yr.; Slander: 6 mos. §§28-3-103, 104|
|Injury to Personal Property||3 yrs. §28-3-105(1)|
|Professional Malpractice||Legal: 1 yr. CPA: 1 yr. §28-3-104(2)|
|Trespass||3 yrs. §28-3-105(1)|
|Collection of Rents||6 yrs. §28-3-109(1)|
|Contracts||Written and oral: 6 yrs. §28-3-109|
|Collection of Debt on Account||6 yrs. unless expressly provided|
|Judgments||10 yrs. §28-3-110(2)|
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
What Is the Purpose of Statutes of Limitations?
There are a couple of key reasons why civil courts in Tennessee and elsewhere impose statutes of limitations. For one, they help ensure that claims are filed soon enough after the incident that evidence remains clear and useful (including witness testimony). Additionally, these time limits prevent potential plaintiffs from "threatening" lawsuits indefinitely. It's important to keep in mind that the statute of limitations may be paused (or "tolled") if the plaintiff was a minor at the time of the incident or mentally incompetent.
Research the Law
Tennessee Civil Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
Don't Miss Your Filing Deadline: Contact an Attorney Today
Tennessee's civil time limits for filing your injury case often depends on the type of injury involved. The statute of limitations is longer for collection of rent than it is for personal injury, for example. While this can all get a bit confusing, you don't have to figure it out alone. Get a head start on your claim today by consulting with a Tennessee litigation attorney near you.
Contact a qualified attorney.