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Tennessee Personal Injury Law

Whether you suffered a personal or financial loss from property damage, a bodily injury or a breach of contract, you may have the makings of a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury litigation intends to “make whole” the losses you've suffered from an injury. However, the person or organization who allegedly injured you have their rights, too, which could complicate your case and recovery.

If you've been injured in Knoxville, Memphis or Nashville, use LawInfo's Tennessee personal injury articles to learn about the laws surrounding your case and to find a qualified attorney.

Product Liability in Tennessee

Product liability (see Title 29, Chapter 28) is a special branch of personal injury litigation that focuses on the manufacturer's liability for a defective or unreasonably dangerous product. For instance, you may have a product liability case if a smartphone you recently purchased had a battery that overheated or exploded, causing you severe burns.

A product liability lawsuit can be based on any of three claims:

  • Strict product liability—You only need to prove that the product had a manufacturing or design defect and that it was responsible for your injury.
  • Breach of warranty—You only need to prove that the product didn't operate as intended by design (express warranty) or by reasonable expectation (implied warranty), thus resulting in injury.
  • Manufacturer negligence—You only need to prove that your injury was the result of the manufacturer's failure to reasonably ensure product safety.

Product liability lawsuits carry a special statute of limitations that expires upon one of three conditions, depending on which one is met first. A Tennessee product liability lawsuit cannot be brought to court after:

  • Six years from the date of the injury, or
  • 10 years from the product's purchase date, or
  • One year from the expiration date of the product's anticipated lifetime.

Tennessee Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations (see Title 28, Chapter 3) limits how much time after an injury occurs that a plaintiff has to pursue legal action against a defendant. Once the statute “runs out,” a lawsuit cannot be pursued. Tennessee's civil statute of limitations includes:

  • Six years for written and oral contracts.
  • One year for wrongful death.
  • One year for personal
  • One year for medical malpractice.
  • Three years for injury (or damage) to property.

Tennessee Proving Negligence

For most personal injury cases, a defendant's liability for compensating a plaintiff's injury is based on whether their actions were negligent. A defendant's negligence is measured as their failure to responsibly prevent foreseeable injury. Tennessee courts use many legal theories to prove negligence, among which are the four elements of negligence:

  1. Duty of Care—Was the defendant responsible for ensuring that no foreseeable harm came to the plaintiff?
  2. Breach of Duty—Did the defendant's actions result in a breach of their duty of care?
    • Courts will often determine a breach of duty by comparing the defendant's actions to those of a “reasonably prudent” person. If the defendant's actions were different from those of a responsible, theoretical person in a similar situation, the defendant likely breached their duty.
  3. Causation—Did the defendant's actions cause, by some extent, the plaintiff's injury?
  4. Damages—Did the plaintiff's injury result in a financial or personal loss that can be compensated?

Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney

Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills and other complications. You should have an attorney help you with your claim. Not sure if you have a good injury case? Speak to a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can help you protect your rights and take the proper next steps.

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