Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in South Carolina

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in South Carolina person falling at work shown in warehouse with concrete floors

Personal injuries can happen in a variety of ways in South Carolina, from car accidents and slip and falls to medical malpractice and defective products. When someone else's negligence or wrongdoing causes you harm, you could obtain compensation for your injuries and losses by taking legal action against the at-fault party with the help of a personal injury attorney.

However, you need to understand the personal injury statute of limitation in South Carolina. In most cases, you have three years from the date of your injury to file a civil lawsuit seeking damages. If you miss the deadline, you risk losing your right to seek compensation altogether.

Navigating the personal injury claims process can be complex and overwhelming, especially when you're trying to focus on your recovery. An experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney can assist with all aspects of the claims process. They can assess whether you have valid grounds to pursue compensation and advise you on the best course of action. If you have a viable personal injury case, an attorney can serve as a valuable resource to protect your rights and increase your chances of getting the most favorable outcome possible.

If someone else’s negligence hurt you or someone you love in South Carolina, contact a personal injury lawyer near you today for a free consultation to learn of your rights and options to seek compensation from those responsible for your pain and suffering.

South Carolina's Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury

South Carolina’s three-year statute of limitations is a strict legal deadline. This means that if you were injured in a car accident, for example, you would have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. As mentioned, if you don’t have an attorney file a lawsuit for you within three years of your injury, the court will likely dismiss your case, and you'll have virtually no legal recourse to get the compensation you need.

It's important to note that the statute of limitations applies to filing a lawsuit, not just making an insurance claim. While your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party's insurance company beyond the three-year mark, you'll lose your leverage if you can't threaten to take the case to court. In fact, having an attorney file a lawsuit can spur an unresponsive or obstinate insurance company to take your claim seriously and negotiate a fair settlement in some cases.

Exceptions That Can Extend the Time You Have to File

In most personal injury cases, the clock starts ticking on the statute of limitations on the date of the injury. However, there are some situations where the clock may start later. These include:

  • Discovery Rule: If the injury is not immediately apparent, the statute of limitations may begin from the date the injury is discovered or should have been reasonably discovered.
  • Minor Children: If someone’s negligence hurt your minor child (under 18 years of age), the statute of limitations may not begin until they turn 18. In that case, they would have one year to file a lawsuit after their 18th birthday in South Carolina.
  • Legal Disability: If the injured person is mentally incompetent or incapacitated at the time of the injury, the statute of limitations may be tolled (paused) until the disability is lifted.
  • Defendant's Absence: If the defendant leaves the state after the cause of action arises and before the statute of limitations expires, the court may count the period of absence as part of the limitation period.
  • Fraudulent Concealment: If the defendant fraudulently conceals the cause of action from the plaintiff, the statute of limitations may be tolled until the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the fraud.
  • Counterclaims: If a counterclaim arises out of the same transaction or occurrence as the plaintiff's claim, it may be asserted even if the statute of limitations has expired.

Additionally, medical malpractice claims have special considerations, and there may be other factors that apply to your situation. It is always best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine the applicable statute of limitations and any potential exceptions in your particular case.

Situations Where You May Need to File an Injury Claim Sooner

If you have a claim against a government entity in South Carolina, you may need to file a formal claim with the government before you can file a lawsuit. The deadline for filing this claim is typically two years from the date of the injury, although it can be as short as one year in some cases.

If the negligence of a government employee or agency caused your injury or loss, you must act quickly and contact an attorney immediately about filing a claim. Again, missing the deadline for filing a claim with the government can bar you from seeking compensation altogether. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complex rules and deadlines for government claims.

What Happens If You Don't File on Time?

If you miss the statute of limitations for your personal injury claim, the consequences can be severe. The court will likely dismiss your case, and you'll be barred from seeking compensation for your injuries. This means that even if you have a strong case and significant damages, you won't be able to hold the at-fault party accountable or recover the compensation you deserve.

The Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and Lawsuit

It's important to understand the difference between a personal injury claim and a lawsuit. A personal injury claim is a demand for compensation that you make to the at-fault party's insurance company. This typically involves having an attorney submit documentation of your injuries and damages and negotiating a settlement with the insurance adjuster.

If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, or if the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance, your attorney may need to file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf to seek compensation. A lawsuit is a formal legal action that involves filing a complaint with the court and going through the litigation process, which can include discovery, depositions, and trial.

Insurance Companies May Have Their Own Deadlines

While the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in South Carolina is three years, insurance companies may have their own deadlines for reporting accidents and submitting claims. These deadlines can be much shorter than the statute of limitations, sometimes as short as a few days or weeks after the accident.

It's crucial to report your accident and injuries to the relevant insurance companies as soon as possible, even if you're not sure whether you want to pursue a claim. Failing to report the accident or submitting a claim late could give the insurance company grounds to deny your claim or offer a lower settlement.

How an Attorney Can Help You with Your SC Personal Injury Claim

Navigating the personal injury claims process can be complex and stressful, especially when you're dealing with injuries and mounting medical bills. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you in many ways, including:

  • Investigating your accident and gathering evidence to support your claim
  • Identifying all potential sources of compensation, including insurance policies and at-fault parties
  • Calculating the full value of your damages, including future medical expenses and lost earning capacity
  • Negotiating with insurance companies to seek a fair settlement
  • Filing a lawsuit and representing you in court if necessary
  • Advising you on the statute of limitations and other deadlines to ensure your claim is filed on time

An attorney can also help you avoid common mistakes that could hurt your claim, such as admitting fault or signing a release without understanding the full extent of your injuries and damages.

What Types of Compensation You Could Receive

If you've been injured by someone else's negligence in South Carolina, you may be entitled to various types of compensation, depending on the circumstances of your case. These could include:

  • Medical expenses, including hospital bills, surgery costs, and prescription medications
  • Lost wages and future earning capacity if your injuries prevent you from working
  • Pain and suffering damages for the physical and emotional trauma you've endured
  • Property damage, such as vehicle repairs after a car accident
  • Punitive damages in cases of gross negligence or intentional misconduct

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand the full value of your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Contact an Experienced SC Personal Injury Attorney Today

After suffering injuries because of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing in South Carolina, don’t wait to get the legal help you need. At Morris Law, LLC, our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to help you navigate the complex claims process and fight for the compensation you deserve. We offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which means you won't owe us anything unless we recover compensation for you. 

Contact us today to request your free consultation and learn more about how we can help you with your SC personal injury claim.


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