Even a relatively minor car accident can cause significant damage in terms of injury, monetary loss and emotional harm. From the cost of emergency medical care to long-term physical rehabilitation and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, injury-related expenses can add up quickly and may have a financial and psychological impact for years to come.

The life upheaval and day-to-day stress that often follows an auto-related injury can make it easy to put off thinking about the possibility of compensation, even when costs are mounting. However, making an informed personal injury claim may be the best way to recoup financial losses and regain a sense of normalcy. For Tennesseans, a short statute of limitations on auto injury claims makes it essential to act quickly following an accident.

Meeting Tennessee’s strict one-year window for filing

A statute of limitations is a state-imposed time limit that prevents filing a claim after a certain amount of time. According to Tennessee Code, those seeking to make a personal injury claim have only one year from the date of the incident to do so. Filing an injury claim promptly and correctly is crucial to prevent dismissal of a case based on this brief timespan.

Take the example of one man whose case the Tennessee Supreme Court dismissed after a failure to properly file his claim within the time allowed by the statute of limitations. According to the Tennessee Courts System, the man sustained serious injuries after a tree on state property fell on his car on Christmas Eve, 2009.

Nearly one year later, on Dec. 17, 2010, the man filed a Department of Treasury form with the Division of Claims Administration detailing his personal injury claim. When his case remained unresolved, the man filed a complaint of negligence against the state. However, at that point, it had already been more than one year from the original accident.

The Tennessee Supreme Court ultimately decided that the man’s original notice of claim filed on Dec.17, 2010 did not qualify to initiate a suit. Instead, the majority held that, while the complaint of negligence filed later did qualify to initiate a suit, the filing date for that complaint fell outside the statute of limitations.

Avoiding filing missteps

Tennessee’s strict time window makes it essential that those seeking compensation for an auto injury file quickly. Consulting with an experienced professional may help safeguard against improper or delayed filing that could forfeit a motorist’s claim to damages.