If you have suffered injuries in an accident in South Carolina, you might be eligible to file a claim for compensation. However, many people do not realize that the state sets time limits on your ability to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. This legally-imposed deadline to sue is dictated by South Carolina’s statute of limitations. The statutory period differs depending on the type of accident that injured you and who was liable for your injuries. Understanding these limits can help you act quickly enough to ensure that your claim remains valid.
Statute of Limitations in South Carolina
SC Code § 15-3-530(5) (2012) sets out South Carolina’s statute of limitations. According to this law, an injured person wishing to file a lawsuit against an at-fault party must do so within three years of sustaining losses in an accident. If they are filing a suit against a government body, the injured person must act within two years.
While you might think this seems like plenty of time, the reality is far more complex. To qualify for compensation, you must first:
- Firmly establish what happened during the accident
- Determine that the accident led to your injuries and losses
- Calculate the value of your losses
- Negotiate with the insurance company
- Prepare for a lawsuit if you cannot reach a settlement
These steps can take several months to complete depending on the nature of the accident and your injuries. Because of that, you should consult with an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney as soon as you can after someone else has injured you. Otherwise, time may run out, and you will have forfeited your right to seek compensation in court.
What Is Covered by South Carolina’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits applies to cases where another party’s negligence or criminal conduct leads to accidents. Such cases include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Dog bite injuries
- Slip and fall injuries
- Nursing home abuse
When investigating any of these incidents, your personal injury attorney will seek to establish that the at-fault party behaved in an unsafe or irresponsible manner that led to your injuries. Furthermore, we will demonstrate that the accident led directly to losses such as:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
- Disability or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
If the insurance company is unwilling to offer you a settlement that will redress these losses, our attorneys will file a lawsuit to demand compensation in court.
Are There Exceptions to South Carolina’s Statute of Limitations?
The state has established several exceptions to the three-year deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit. These include:
- Workplace injuries – If you’re an employee and suffer injuries while at work, you may qualify to seek compensation for your losses through South Carolina’s workers’ compensation program. Workers’ comp requires you to file a claim within two years of receiving the injury, the discovery of a work injury, or the diagnosis of an occupational illness.
- Children’s injuries – Children who have suffered injuries and losses in childhood accidents have the right to sue the at-fault party until they turn 19. In cases of sexual abuse or incest, they may file up until the later date of six years from their 21st birthday or three years from the realization that the abuse or incest caused their injury.
- Medical malpractice – The state offers extended deadlines for patients who discover that an injury occurred due to a medical error long after the incident happened. For example, if a surgeon accidentally left a tool in a patient’s body, the patient might not discover it for years. They will still have an opportunity to file a claim even if the surgery happened more than three years ago.
Contact an Experienced South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
Many factors can affect the length of time necessary to file a successful personal injury claim. If the insurance company disputes your claim, you will need to take additional steps to link your injuries to the at-fault party’s negligence. If your recovery process takes several months, you may not know how much you should claim until you know the full extent of your medical expenses. The longer your claim takes, the less time you have to prepare for a lawsuit.
If you have suffered injuries in an accident that someone else caused, contact the experienced Charleston personal injury attorneys of Crantford Meehan immediately. We will start building your case right away so that we can be ready to take the at-fault party to court as soon as it becomes necessary. Call us today at (843) 773-4430 or contact us online for a free consultation.