Suing the State of Tennessee in a personal injury or wrongful death case is different than suing a person or business in a personal injury case. Here are some of the major differences:
1. Formal notice must be given before a lawsuit is filed with the Division of Claims Administration. Failure to give written notice in the correct way will result in the loss of the right to bring a claim. Notice typically must be given within one year of the date of the incident causing injury or death, although this area of the law is very complicated. The actual deadline that applies in your case should be determined by an experienced Tennessee personal injury and wrongful death lawyer who has been made aware of all of the facts.
2. After notice is filed, the injured person must wait 90 days before taking other legal action. The State may settle or deny the claim during this 90-day period. (I have filed claims against the State of Tennessee many times over my 30+ years as a lawyer and they have never settled a claim in this 89 day period.) If the claim is not settled or denied, proper papers must be filed with the Tennessee Claims Commission.
3. The State of Tennessee is not defended by private lawyers. Instead, it is defended by the State Attorney General’s Office.
4. You are not entitled to a jury trial in this type of case. Instead, the case is heard by a Claims Commissioner, a state employee. There is one Claims Commissioner in each of the three Grand Divisions of the State.
5. Damages are limited to no more than $300,000 for any one person, regardless of their medical bills, lost of earnings and earning capacity, or the extent of their pain, suffering, disfigurement, or loss of enjoyment of life. If multiple people are hurt or killed in one incident, the State is responsible for no more than $1,000,000 in damages for everyone, with no person receiving more than $300,000 or a personal injury or more than $300,000 for the death of any one person.
6. Any appeal from a final ruling of a Claims Commissioner goes directly to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.
At the Law Offices of John Day, P.C. we have successfully handled multiple Tennessee personal injury and Tennessee wrongful death cases against the State of Tennessee over the years. We will be honored to learn the facts of your potential case and advise you on whether we can help you. You can also call us at 615.742.4880 or toll-free at 866.812.8787 to discuss you potential case.