Tennessee statute of limitations breach of contract may vary in length but will usually be six years.

When it comes to filing either formal criminal charges or a civil complaint, both federal and state courts have certain time limits. These time limits, or statutes of limitation, have been put in place to prevent complainants from indefinitely threatening to file lawsuits. They also serve to make sure evidence is not compromised in these cases.

Duration of Statutes of Limitation in Tennessee

Tennessee, similar to other states, imposes varying time limits for differing types of civil actions. For example, if a plaintiff wishes to file a lawsuit for personal injury, he or she has one year to do so. If the lawsuit pertains to personal property, he or she has three years to file the suit. If the matter relates to collecting rent or debts, the statute of limitations is six years.

Other common examples include:

  • Contract: four or six years, depending on the specific circumstances.
  • False imprisonment: one year.
  • Fraud: three years.
  • Legal malpractice: one year.
  • Libel: one year.
  • Medical malpractice: one year.
  • Personal injury: one year.
  • Product liability: one, three, or four years, depending on the specific circumstances.
  • Property damage: three years.
  • Slander: six months.
  • Trespassing: three years.
  • Wrongful death: one year.

For example, if a person has suffered an injury, he or she must file the lawsuit within a specified period after the attack that injured him or her. If he or she fails to do so, then the person loses the right to file a lawsuit. However, states do make allowances for the fact that some injuries may not show themselves until much later.

Simply put, statutes of limitations set cutoff dates for suing. If a plaintiff misses this cutoff date, then the defendant is able to mount his or her defense using this statute of limitations. In cases where a defendant can prove, first, that a statute of limitations is applicable and, second, that time has run out, the court will usually dismiss the case.

Therefore, if the statute of limitations is one year, when does that year start? For these purposes, time usually starts ticking the moment the claim arises. This may be referred to by the court as the "cause of action" or the "accrual," and it is the first moment when the plaintiff has a reason to sue. However, it is important to note there are certain circumstances or events that can delay statutes of limitations and prolong the period in which one can bring a claim.

For example, assume Person A wants to sue Person B for battery and assault, and the statute of limitations for these offenses is two years. Under normal circumstances, the plaintiff would have two years from when he or she was hit to file a suit. However, if the plaintiff was either underage or deemed mentally incompetent at the time of the incident, then the statute of limitations relevant to the crime committed against the plaintiff may be paused.

Breach of Contract Cases in Tennessee

With regard to breach of contract cases in Tennessee, a six-year statute of limitations will be applicable to most cases. There is, however, an exception which could be applicable to a breach of contract. This exception would lower the period in which someone is required to file a suit. On the other hand, a different statute of limitations could allow a period of more than six years in a breach of contract case. The possibility also exists that none of Tennessee's statutes of limitations are applicable, due to the parties having signed a contract agreeing to a specific period of limitations.

In most breach of contract cases in Tennessee, the statute of limitations starts on the day the breach occurs, which is generally not difficult to determine. For example, if Company X agreed to make a delivery to Company Y on Sept. 1, 2018, but fail to honor its agreement, then the breach took place on Sept. 1, 2018.

If a breach of contracts relates to a sale of goods, then the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) will be applicable. A four-year statute of limitations is set for any contract that falls under the UCC.

If you need help with a statute of limitations in Tennessee, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.