Timing is a critical component of all lawsuits. Federal and State statutes clearly and concisely designate specific time-frames for which pleadings and papers can be filed in order to be considered timely. Mills v. Fulmarque is an Tennessee personal injury case which arose when a man fell off of his chair and injured himself while in the workplace. The victim, Calvin Mills, then sued his employer as well as the seller of the faulty chair. Two years later, there was an attempt by one of the co-defendants to add the manufacturer to the litigation alleging comparative fault. The problem in the litigation arose because the statute of limitations had run and no other parties could be added to the litigation, thus leaving an at-fault party free from answering for their negligence.
The court in this case finally clarifies any possible ambiguity in Tennessee statute by holding that where a state statute states, "a cause of action for injuries to the person must commence within one (1) year after the cause of action," additional parties cannot be added after the one year has run from the time of the original injury. Tenn. Code Ann. §28-3-104(a)(1)(2000). The court interpreted statutes to show that any statute of limitation extensions applied to the naming of new parties. This holding prevented Mills from seeking recovery from the manufacturer of the faulty office equipment. By failing to identify all potentially at- fault parties, the attorney denied Mills his opportunity to recover the injuries he sustained due to the negligence of others.
It is extremely important when involved in a lawsuit to have a Knoxville injury attorney who is well versed in the law and can file the appropriate filings within the allotted time. It is important to get it right the first time because if you do not, you can be limited in future recovery. In Mills, the attorneys did not exhaust their resources in investigating possible parties to their lawsuit and as a result, their client was not able to receive the justice he deserved. Had there been more time, the injured worker would have been able to seek remedies from all of the parties at fault. However, as in all litigation, there are strictly applied time limits for which you can file a claim. If no claim is filed, or if it is not filed against the proper parties, then you can lose your ability to sue and obtain the judgment you so rightly deserve. Lawsuits are complex and it is critical to have a well informed and meticulous advocate zealously representing your rights.
The allotting of fault and the choosing of parties is a strategic decision that is contingent on your specific state law. When determining negligence involved in an injury, you need to know how each state addresses fault and what possible defenses are available. States vary on which doctrines they follow, such as comparative negligence, contributory negligence or assumption of the risk. This is a concept that is not a central point in this case or decision, but is important for people to be aware of. This is yet another reason why you need help from a competent attorney to obtain the maximum recovery for you.