Knoxville is situated in one of the most beautiful areas of our great country. But despite its scenic splendor, the Knoxville region sees its share of accidents and injuries due to its location as a transportation hub. If you’ve been injured in an accident in Knoxville, Tennessee, you’d be well-advised to seek the advice of a competent local attorney to help you determine your right to financial compensation for your injuries.
Knoxville, Tennessee, situated adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is the third largest city in Tennessee. Knoxville’s estimated population was 183,270 in 2013, which increased from 178,874 in 2010. The larger Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, of which Knoxville is a part, had a population of around 852,715 in 2013. It is home to the University of Tennessee and the professional hockey team, the Knoxville Ice Bears.
Knoxville is a hub for the major interstates I-40, I-75, and I-275, and it was also considered an important position by both the Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War. The region draws many tourists for its history, scenic beauty, and friendly atmosphere.
If you have been injured in a Knoxville accident, there are a number of rules that may affect your ability to recover financially, including the Tennessee statute of limitations, modified comparative fault rules, and damage caps.
Statute of Limitations in Knoxville Personal Injury Lawsuits
There is a time limit for when a lawsuit must be filed in court in a Knoxville personal injury lawsuit. That time limit is called a “statute of limitations.” The statute of limitations in Tennessee personal injury lawsuits is included in Section 28-3-104 of the Tennessee Code. In general, the statute of limitations for Tennessee personal injury lawsuits is one year after the accident has happened. There are only limited exceptions to this rule.
For instance, if you are injured in a car accident on May 1 of this year, you will have until only one year to file a lawsuit in the case. If you file the lawsuit on June 1 of the following year, the person who injured you will immediately ask the court to dismiss your lawsuit on the grounds that the statute of limitations has passed in the case. The court is very likely to grant their motion, and you will lose your ability to recover financially for your injuries.
Calculation of the statute of limitations is not necessarily as straightforward as it may appear, so contacting an experienced Knoxville personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident is essential.
Knoxville Modified Comparative Fault
In many, if not most, personal injury lawsuits, the defendant (the person being sued for causing the injury) will claim that the plaintiff (the injured person) was actually responsible for the injuries. Tennessee law recognizes that the plaintiff may be in part responsible for his or her own injuries through a legal doctrine called comparative fault. In particular, Tennessee’s standard is called “modified comparative fault.”
Under this standard, a plaintiff’s financial award for damages is reduced by his or her fault, which is set as a percentage of fault in the accident. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 40 percent at fault in the accident, that person’s financial award will be reduced by 40 percent under Tennessee law. However, a person who is 50 percent or more at fault in an accident cannot collect damages from the other at-fault party.
As an example of how modified comparative fault works in a Knoxville personal injury lawsuit, consider a case where a driver hits a pedestrian and the pedestrian sues for his injuries. The pedestrian sues, and his injuries are found to be worth $500,000 dollars; however, the pedestrian is found to be 20 percent at fault because he crossed the street in an unsafe manner. As a result, under Tennessee’s modified comparative fault rule, the pedestrian will be able to collect only $400,000 dollars from the driver or his insurance company. If, instead of 20 percent, the pedestrian was found to be 55 percent at fault in the accident, he would not be entitled to collect anything from the driver under the modified comparative fault rule.
Tennessee Damage Caps
Tennessee law limits certain types of damages in personal injury cases. Economic damages are damages intended to compensate you for money you have lost as a result of the accident. For example, your medical bills, costs to repair or replace your vehicle, and lost income are economic damages because they are measurable and represent money you have actually lost or will likely lose in the future. Other damages are referred to as “non-economic damages” and include “pain and suffering” and punitive damages.
Most non-economic damages, including “pain and suffering,” are capped at $750,000 dollars. That damage cap is increased to $1,000,000 dollars if the injury includes a severe burn, paralysis from a spinal cord injury, amputation of a limb, or death of a minor child’s parent.
For example, consider a case where a truck driver is severely injured in an accident, and the other driver is 100 percent at fault. If the truck driver’s injuries are found to be worth $500,000 dollars because of medical bills and future lost income, those damages (called “economic damages”) will not be reduced by the damage cap. But if the award also includes $2,000,000 dollars in pain and suffering damages, for a total award of $2,500,000 dollars, unless one of the situations listed in the prior paragraph applies, the plaintiff will be given only $1,250,000 dollars as compensation in the case.
This article has covered only a small sampling of the rules that apply to Knoxville personal injury cases. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Tennessee accident, seek the counsel of an experienced Knoxville personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident. The statute of limitations, damage caps, and modified comparative fault may reduce or even eliminate your award. Without competent counsel, you may lose your ability to financially recover for your injuries.