Tennessee Personal Injury Law
Statutes of Limitations:
The amount of time you have to sue whoever caused your injury or damage.
- Personal Injury - 1 year from the date the injury was discovered
- Damage to Personal Property - 3 years
- Medical malpractice - 1 year from the discovery of the injury
- Legal malpractice - 1 year
- Other professional malpractice - 1 year
Where to Sue:
- Personal injury claims under $15,000 - Tennessee Court of General Sessions, and if you are suing in a county with a population of more than 700,000, you can file in the Tennessee General Sessions Court for anything under $25,000.
- Personal injury claims over $25,000 - Tennessee Circuit Court
How to Sue:
Tennessee Court of General Sessions:
- Forms: Tennessee Complaint and Summons. You can obtain these forms from the clerk of the Tennessee Court of General Sessions.
- Where to file: With the clerk of the Tennessee Court of General Sessions in the county where the defendant resides or where the injury occurred.
- How to notify the defendant (service): A sheriff, constable, or deputy should personally hand the Complaint and Summons to the defendant. In the alternative, you can request that the clerk of the Tennessee Court of General Sessions mail the Complaint and Summons to the defendant by certified mail.
- Proving the defendant was notified: If the defendant is personally served, the process server should sign and file proof of service with the clerk of the Tennessee Court of General Sessions. If the defendant is served by mail, the certified mail card is adequate proof of service.
- Attorneys: Legal representation is permitted in a Tennessee Court of General Sessions.
- Appealing a small claim: The plaintiff or defendant may appeal to a Tennessee Circuit Court for a new trial within 10 days of the entry of the judgment.
Tennessee Circuit Court: Prior to filing your case, consult a Tennessee personal injury attorney. Personal injury cases can be complicated. Filing your case incorrectly may cause you to have your claim dismissed or lose your case, lack of knowledge of law and procedure can subject you to adverse consequences such as damage to your case or even fines from the court.
- Forms: Complaint.The Summons will be issued by the Tennessee Circuit Court Clerk when you file your Complaint with a Tennessee Circuit Court.
- How to File: File your Complaint with a Tennessee Circuit Court Clerk. The clerk will stamp the Complaint and issue a Summons which should be mailed to or served on the defendant.
- How to Notify the Defendant:The defendant may be notified either by certified mail or by personal service delivered by a sheriff or deputy.
What to Do if You Are Being Sued:
- Time to respond to a Summons in Tennessee: 30 days.
- Get in touch with an attorney.
- If your injury is associated with an event at your place of employment or residence, get in touch with your insurance company. If the insurance company determines that your insurance covers your claim, your insurance company may provide you with legal representation.
What to Do if a Judgment Was Entered Against You:
If you do not serve an answer to the plaintiff's complaint in Tennessee within 30 days of receiving service, a default judgment may be entered against you. When the court enters a default judgment, the plaintiff has won his case, and you must pay the money the plaintiff seeks.
Ways to Collect Your Judgment:
- Time to Set Aside a Judgment in Tennessee:
- A Tennessee Circuit Court can set aside a judgment for mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect, or for fraud or newly discovered evidence not more than one year after entry of the judgment
- A Tennessee Circuit Court default judgment can be set aside for good cause
- A Tennessee Circuit Court can fix a clerical mistake at any time
- If a default judgment has been entered against you, contact an attorney.
- If you succeed in your Tennessee personal injury lawsuit, you may collect your judgment by requesting that the defendant pay what he owes. If the defendant does not pay the judgment, you can ask the court for a Writ of Garnishment, levy on the debtor’s personal property, or a judgment lien against the defendantt's real property.
- Obtain the advice of a Tennessee debt collection attorney for help in collecting your judgment.