In South Carolina, someone who was injured due to the negligence of another person can bring a claim against the individual or entity who was responsible. If the lawsuit is successful, the injured party may be able to obtain compensation for his or her losses. This may include the cost of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of future income. However, there are also certain rules regarding how and when claims must be filed in the state’s civil court system. Failing to adhere to these laws can result in the claim being barred, meaning that the injured party is never given the opportunity to recover compensation for the injuries sustained. As such, if you or a loved one was injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, it is important to immediately retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney who can ensure that your case is filed correctly and on-time.
Statute of Limitations
South Carolina law requires that all personal injury lawsuits be filed within three years of the date that the injury occurred. While this rule is generally applicable, there are some exceptions. One exception to the three year deadline can only be invoked if the injured party is:
- Under the age of 18 years; or
- Mentally incompetent.
In order to be eligible for this exception the injured party’s disability must have existed at the time of the injury. In these situations, the amount of time the disability lasts will not count towards the three year statute of limitations. There are limits to the exception as the time period within which the action can be brought cannot be extended:
- More than five years, with the exception of infancy; or
- For more than one year after the disability ceases
In instances where the injured party is afflicted by two or more disabilities at the time of the injury, time will not begin to accrue until all disabilities are healed. If the injured party was a minor at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until he or she turns 18 years old. Once the victim turns 18 years old, he or she has one year to file a claim against the responsible party. This is in large part due to the understanding that minors do not have the maturity to decide whether or not to file a lawsuit. Extending the deadline gives minors whose legal guardians did not pursue legal action for the minor’s losses an opportunity to be compensated for his or her pain and suffering. However, by extending the deadline, some of the damages for medical expenses and loss of income that would have gone to the victim’s parents may be lost if the case is not filed within the three year deadline. This is true even though the minor’s claims for non-economic damages and future economic harm can still be heard by a court.
Finally, if a government agency or other governmental entity is responsible for the injury, the statute of limitations is shortened to two years from the date that the injury or property loss was or should have been discovered. There are also additional filing requirements for cases where the at-fault party was a government entity. For example, plaintiffs must bring the claim against the correct government agency. Additionally, the injured party must also file a notice of claim within between 30 and 180 days of the accident, depending on the particular governmental entity involved.
The Discovery Rule
In some cases, an injured party may not discover his or her injury immediately. For example, car accident victims often manifest injuries to their backs and necks weeks or even months after the actual date of the accident. This can make a significant difference to when the statute of limitations begins running. In the interests of fairness, courts do allow some victims to use the date that the injury was discovered or should have been discovered as the date from which the statute of limitations begins to run. This allows the injured party time to recover from the accident and speak to an attorney before having to prepare for settlement negotiations or trial.
How We Can Help
With so much at stake in a personal injury case, it is almost a necessity to obtain the advice of an attorney who will be able to help guide you through the legal process. Experienced attorneys offer a number of different services that can make all the difference in the outcome of a case, including:
- Assessing claims and explaining legal options;
- Navigating complicated legal procedures;
- Filing necessary court documents;
- Providing access to an investigative team;
- Negotiating a settlement in order to avoid the expense of a trial; and
- Contacting and working with insurance companies.
The attorneys at the Joye Law Firm have been helping accident victims since 1968. We pride ourselves not only on our extensive experience, but also our commitment to our clients. We understand the extreme amount of financial and emotional pressure our clients are under and are dedicated to helping relieve some of that stress by aggressively representing their interests.
Contact a Charleston Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Sustaining an injury in an accident caused by the negligence or recklessness of another can take a devastating physical, emotional, and financial toll on victims and their families. Having legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome of your case, so if you or a loved one were injured, it is vital to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. If you live in Beaufort, Charleston, Clinton, Columbia, Conway, Florence, Mount Pleasant, Myrtle Beach, North Charleston, Orangeburg, Summerville, or Walterboro, or the Horry, Laurens, Lexington, or Richland County areas, please contact the Joye Law Firm by calling (888) 324-3100 or complete one of our standard contact forms and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule a free initial consultation.