SW Legal studies in Business

Insured Party Sued for Damages After Statute of Limitation Expires Evades Liability
Description Tennessee appeals court held that in a fatal accident case, where the insured driver who caused the accident was not identified for more than a year, the statute of limitations had expired, so he could not longer be made a defendant in a personal injury suit for damages.
Topic Insurance
Key Words Uninsured Motorist; Statute of Limitations
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Kirk was killed in an accident by an unknown driver. His estate sued "John Doe," the unknown driver, for damages. Since John Doe was unknown, process was served on Kirk's uninsured motorist carrier as defendant in the action. Before the matter was settled, but more than a year after the accident, the identity of John Doe was discovered to be James Lowe, who was, in fact, insured. The estate then moved to amend the suit to name Lowe as the defendant. Lowe moved for summary judgment, contending that the one-year statute of limitations had expired. The trial court denied his motion. Lowe appealed.
Decision

Reversed. Since Lowe was insured, the rules regarding uninsured motorist insurance, and the time limits regarding filing actions in such cases, become irrelevant. Under Tennessee law, parties have one year in which to file suit against an insured party for damages. The suit against Lowe was filed more than one year after the accident, so it fails because the statute of limitations has run.

Citation Estate of Kirk v. Lowe, 2001 WL 1149321 (Ct. App., Tenn., 2001)

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