It can be very disorienting to be injured in a sudden accident—especially if it was caused by someone else’s negligence and not your own mistake. It takes time to get your bearings and figure out what to do after slipping on a wet floor in a grocery store, getting t-boned in an intersection, or being injured by a doctor’s mistake. Fortunately, under South Carolina personal injury law, you have several years to file a personal injury claim before the statute of limitations expires.
We take a look at filing deadlines for personal injury claims in Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Greenville and how our attorneys can make sure you don’t lose your chance to get compensation by waiting too long.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on your right to file a lawsuit in civil court. This time limit is strictly enforced, so it’s important that you know what it is if you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. The standard time limit for injury claims in South Carolina is three years. That means you have three years from the date of the accident to take legal action against the person who caused your car accident, slip and fall, or medical injury. There are a couple of exceptions to this law, including the following situations:
- You don’t discover your injury right away. If the injury you sustained in an accident is not evident right away, the clock does not start running until the day it is diagnosed. For example, some head, neck, and back injuries are not discovered until several weeks or months have passed.
- You are a minor at the time of the accident. If a child is injured in a dog attack or car accident, the statute of limitations does not start running until the child turns 18. As a parent or guardian, you can file a claim on their behalf before they turn 18, but in situations where a child does not have someone to do that for them, they have three years from the date they turn 18 to file their own claim.
- You were hurt by a police officer or government official. If you were illegally hurt by a police officer, or you were injured in an accident with an ambulance or fire truck that was not your fault, you only have two years to file a civil lawsuit.
Rather than trying to figure out which laws apply to you, your safest bet is to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident to make sure you file on time. If the statute of limitations expires, you will lose the option of filing a claim to recover damages from the at-fault party.
Why You Don’t Want to Use All the Time You Have
Even though you have three years to file a claim, you never want to wait that long to get started. In fact, the sooner you file a claim, the stronger your case is likely to be. That is because it will be easier to gather the evidence you need to prove fault if you do it soon after the accident. Also, filing while medical treatment is ongoing helps make the case that your injuries are serious. If you have catastrophic injuries, your lawyer might advise you to wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement before agreeing to a settlement, but that doesn’t mean you should delay filing for the full three years. Finally, filing promptly sends a strong message to the deciding parties that you are serious about the claim, especially if you have a personal injury lawyer representing you.