statute of limitations

If you believe that you or your loved one has been harmed by a doctor or hospital’s carelessness or disregard for safety, you should be aware that you only have a limited amount of time to take legal action. You should have an experienced medical malpractice attorney evaluate your injury and discuss whether you have a valid claim. Medical malpractice cases are complicated and not all medical errors are the basis for a legal claim. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible because South Carolina law limits the amount of time you have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Our compassionate medical malpractice attorneys at Joye Law Firm care about our clients and are committed to helping you hold the negligent doctor or hospital accountable. We will be forthright with you about your legal options and whether you have a legal claim. The Joye Law Firm has been in business for more than 50 years. Our law firm has offices in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Clinton and helps people who have been harmed by medical malpractice anywhere in South Carolina. Our goal is to help you get the compensation you need to rebuild your life and move forward after a serious injury.

Legal experience certainly matters in medical negligence cases. Our attorneys have more than 150 years of collective legal experience helping individuals and families that have been harmed. Our initial consultation to discuss your case is free. It will allow you to educate yourself about your legal options with no obligation to hire us. If you have questions about whether you have a medical malpractice case, call today.

You can reach us by phone or fill out an online form for a free case review.

Each state has its own time limit for filing a malpractice lawsuit against a doctor, hospital or other health care provider. The time limit is referred to as the statute of limitations. It applies to start a case.

Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in South Carolina is three years from the date of the procedure that caused the injury or from the date when the injury was discovered or should have been discovered.

Many people are uncertain about exactly what happened to them. They come to our attorneys at Joye Law Firm for help getting answers. You are unlikely to know whether a doctor or hospital delivered substandard care unless you work with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer.

Doctors and hospitals will guard their reputations and will not admit to making preventable errors. They are unlikely to be forthright about what really happened. You will have to have an experienced South Carolina medical injury lawyer to gather your medical records and conduct an independent investigation.

If our dedicated attorneys believe that you were a victim of medical negligence, we will obtain your records and have a medical specialist review your medical history and the treatment you received.

An independent medical professional will evaluate the records and offer an opinion about whether the health care provider failed to follow the recognized standard of care in treating you and committed medical malpractice as a result. Surgeries and many medical procedures include some degree of risk.

A doctor may make an error despite the health care provider’s best efforts. The issue is whether your doctor provided the level of treatment that other reasonably prudent physicians in the area would recognize as proper and fitting. If the doctor failed to act appropriately, you may have a claim.  If the doctor provided reasonable care in keeping with the standard of treatment, he or she cannot be held legally liable simply because the outcome of the treatment was not what you desired or expected.

When filing a claim, South Carolina also requires that you file a certificate of merit, certifying to the court that the malpractice claim has merit and is not frivolous.

Our attorneys will offer to handle your case on a contingency fee basis if the medical professional issues an opinion that the doctor failed to adhere to the standard of care and caused your injury.

Can You Sue After the Statute of Limitations?

As a general rule, your medical negligence lawsuit will be disallowed if it is filed after the statute of limitations has expired. But there are some exceptions, as discussed below.

Gathering and reviewing medical records and hiring medical experts to render an opinion about what happened takes some time.

That is why it is critically important to contact a qualified personal injury lawyer promptly if you have questions about a malpractice claim. Our attorneys at Joye Law Firm have successfully handled medical malpractice claims involving doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.

The Discovery Exception to the Statute of Limitations

There are situations in which you may not reasonably have a way of knowing that a doctor harmed you because the injury is not yet obvious.

In these cases, the clock doesn’t start counting on the three-year time limit immediately because you only discovered the injury at a later date. In these situations, you may have additional time to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The three-year statute of limitations may be extended when an injury was discovered months or years after a medical procedure.

For example, if you developed medical complications due to a surgical instrument such as a clamp or sponge being inadvertently left inside your body by a surgical team and the condition was not discovered for four years, South Carolina law allows you three years from the date the foreign object was discovered in your body or should have been discovered to file a medical malpractice claim.

South Carolina law also does provide an exception for patients who are harmed before they reach adulthood. If you were under the age of 18 at the time you were harmed by medical negligence, you or your parents may have up to 7 years to become aware of the injury and file a lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations Law in South Carolina (S.C. Code § 15-3-545)

The South Carolina Code of Laws (S.C. Code § 15-3-545) says that to recover damages for injury arising out of a medical, surgical or dental procedure or operation by a licensed health care provider, a legal action must be begun within three years of the date of the medical treatment or operation that caused the injury.

In the cases in which the injury was discovered later, South Carolina civil law says that legal action must be taken within three years of the date of discovery of the injury or when it reasonably ought to have been discovered.

However, you cannot sue a health care provider for medical negligence more than six years from the date that the injury occurred, regardless of the date that the injury was discovered.

Medical negligence occurs when a licensed doctor or health care provider fails to follow the recognized standard of care.

Medical malpractice may involve:

  • Failure to order appropriate medical tests
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis of a serious disease, allowing the disease to become harder to manage
  • Injury during the delivery of a baby
  • Surgical errors
  • Anesthesia errors.

Deadline for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

If you file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the deadline set by the statute of limitations, the court will in all likelihood dismiss it. Once the statute of limitations has run, then you generally lose your right to sue a doctor or health care provider for medical negligence.

An understanding of the statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims underscores the importance of contacting a lawyer as soon as you suspect that you or your loved one has been harmed by a health care provider’s negligence.

At Joye Law Firm, we encourage you to contact us to discuss your questions. Because the circumstances surrounding each instance of medical malpractice are different, you are best advised to take advantage of a free, no-obligation consultation to review the specifics of your situation with us. It will help you understand your legal options and whether a medical malpractice claim is a possibility.