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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

How Long Do You Have to File Wrongful Death in Tennessee? | A Full Overview

Wrongful death is one of the most devastating consequences a family can go through after an accident. The emotional pain is already a huge factor that family members need to live with, but what about those expenses that came from the accident?


Families can file wrongful death claims and get compensated for any damages related to the accident. Even though money won't bring their loved one back, it can certainly help them move on without such a big financial burden.


Tennessee law has a few rules surrounding how much time someone has to file a wrongful death claim. People who have a case on their hands should keep reading to get all the information they can.


How Long Do Victims Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Tennessee?

How Long Do Victims Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Tennessee?


Most wrongful death cases can be filed within one year of the person's death.


Tennessee's statute of limitations establishes this period for both wrongful death and a regular personal injury claim. This is a short time to file a wrongful death lawsuit, so victims must do everything they can to get legal help as soon as possible.


There are some exceptions to this rule, though. The "Discovery Rule" states that the one-year period starts as soon as the victims discover the cause of their loved one's death. In some cases, family members may not be able to identify the cause of death immediately, so they could get more time to file their claims.


Other exceptions that can affect the statute of limitations include:

  • Reasonableness Standard: The period can start before the family knows the true cause of death of their loved one if a court determines that they should have known before a prior date.

  • Medical Malpractice: Some medical malpractice cases could get the statute of limitations extended by 120 days if the victims send a notice to the physicians or health care providers mentioned in the lawsuit. This notice must be sent 60 days before filing the case and must include: Patient and claimant information, attorney information, information about all the people receiving the notice, and a HIPAA-compliant document that authorizes the release of any medical records.

  • Lack of Legal Capacity: If the only eligible claimant doesn't have the legal capacity to file a claim, the period could be tolled. This lack of legal capacity can refer to being of unsound mind or under 18 years old, for example. The statute of limitations would start when their capacity is restored or if the person gets a representative to file a claim.

These exceptions are only awarded in rare cases, so people shouldn't rely on them. Working with a Tennessee wrongful death lawyer is the best approach to take if they want to get the compensation they need.


What Is a Statute of Limitations?


The "Statute of Limitations" refers to the window of time someone has to file a lawsuit. Most states have different deadlines for these claims, so the best thing to do to avoid being too late is to talk to wrongful death lawyers as soon as possible.


What Happens If Surviving Family Members Don't File a Lawsuit in Time?


Failing to file a wrongful death claim in time could result in the case getting dismissed. If this happens, surviving family members can't recover any damages, leaving them with a ton of out-of-pocket expenses to deal with. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can advise who can file wrongful death in Tennessee.


In any case, filing a wrongful death claim as soon as possible is the best thing to do. The longer people take to seek legal action, the harder it'll be to gather evidence and make a reasonable argument.


Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits?


Not all family members can file a wrongful death claim in Tennessee. Most of the time, these claims are limited to "direct" family. At first, the right to file a claim belongs to the surviving spouse.


If the victim didn't have a spouse, other people could file the claim:

  • Children

  • Next of kin

  • Personal representative of the deceased's estate

  • Parent(s) (if the person was dependent on them at the time of their passing)

Even if the estate administrator is the one who files the wrongful death lawsuit, the damages recovered will go to the surviving family members.


What's Considered Wrongful Death?


Wrongful death is a type of personal injury case. Here, the victim of the personal injury isn't able to file a claim because of their death.


There are certain scenarios where people can file wrongful death lawsuits, including:

  • Medical malpractice

  • Negligence

  • Intentional/criminal acts

To summarize, most acts that result in the death of a person because of another person's negligence, omission, or "wrongful act" could be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit.


Those who don't know if they have a case to file should talk to a Tennessee wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.


What Can a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Get the Surviving Family Members?


Family members can get a wide range of "damages" in compensation for their Tennessee wrongful death lawsuit, including:

  • Medical expenses

  • Lost wages of the deceased person

  • Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased

  • Funeral and/or burial expenses

  • Loss of love, guidance, companionship, or care

  • Any expenses that resulted from the deceased's injury

The awarded damages will depend on the case and the defense the claimants get. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for more information on questions like Is there a cap on damages for wrongful death in Tennessee? This is why working with an experienced wrongful death attorney is the most appropriate approach to such delicate cases.


How to Open a Tennessee Wrongful Death Case

How to Open a Tennessee Wrongful Death Case


Family members must gather as much evidence as possible to get started. Things like police reports, medical records, and photos/videos of the accident scene are great to start with.


Those who don't know what can work for their case must contact a lawyer. These experts have the experience necessary to build a case that ensures maximum compensation.


Attorneys will take care of the entire legal process, including gathering evidence, filing a claim against the at-fault person, negotiating, and representing the family members in court if needed.


Bottom Line


The Tennessee wrongful death statute is considered short compared to other states. Even though it's not convenient, surviving family members must work as fast as possible to ensure the best chance of getting compensated fairly.


Those who want to file a wrongful death case the right way must seek legal help. The experts at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys are committed to going to war for their clients. All it takes is scheduling a free case evaluation with the team to get started.

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