Wrongful Death Filing Statute of Limitations

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for a South Carolina Wrongful Death Case

It’s never easy when a beloved family member passes away. It’s even more difficult when their death was caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional act. As you try to navigate final expenses, you have a limited time to file a wrongful death case against those responsible. 

Known as a statute of limitations, this time frame in South Carolina is generally three years, but there are many stipulations. It’s crucial to discuss the matter with a skilled wrongful death attorney at Pracht Injury Lawyers as soon as possible. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina has a lot in common with a personal injury case. Much like an injury claim, the typical statute of limitations for wrongful death is three years. The difference is that the person who was wronged is unable to file their own claim, so a representative for the decedent must file it on their behalf. 

There are many possible scenarios in which you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, including car accidents. The other party might not have intended to cause harm, but their negligence directly led to the death of your loved one. The three-year time limit applies to legal action filed against non-governmental defendants. Examples may include drunk drivers, product manufacturers, and private property owners. 

The South Carolina Code of Laws Section 15-3-530 sets the statute of limitations at three years for “death by wrongful act.” This period begins “upon the death of the person,” so this is the window during which beneficiaries can seek a valid legal claim for recompense for economic and non-economic damages related to the accident. Damages may include medical bills, loss of income, funeral costs, and other expenses. 

What Happens If You Miss South Carolina’s Filing Deadline?

There are several reasons delays happen in taking legal action against the negligent parties. The family may have disagreements over who should speak for the departed. While this responsibility usually lies with the decedent’s spouse or the executor named in their will, it’s not always the case. You may also be unsure whether the case qualifies as a wrongful death at all. Arrange for a free consultation with Christopher Pracht and the experienced legal team at Pracht Injury Lawyers who can better assess your situation.

Whether the wrongful death is the result of a fatal car crash or a premises liability, it’s vital not to miss the statute of limitations. Remember: the three-year time limit applies to when you file the lawsuit and not necessarily when the wrongful death case is ultimately resolved. In many cases, the process can run for months or even years before a settlement is reached. 

If you don’t file the case within three years of the victim’s passing, the court is unlikely to hear it—instead, the case will likely be dismissed and thrown out without valid consideration. The court may not even accept the case at all. While it may be possible to challenge this decision, it’s remarkably difficult to do so.

Limitations Against the Government

While the typical statute of limitations is three years, the time frame is shorter in wrongful death cases involving the government. In these cases, you may only have two years to file a lawsuit against a governmental defendant. An example may be a county hospital or a city construction project accident. 

Medical Malpractice Cases

The timeline for most wrongful death cases starts when the victim passes away. Filing wrongful death action for medical malpractice can be a bit different. If the medical malpractice is evident at the time of death, then the same three-year window applies. 

However, if you don’t learn of the malpractice or negligence until later, the three-year statute of limitations only begins at the time of discovery, but can’t be more than six years from the originating medical action. 

Timely Legal Response During a Difficult Time

It’s absolutely critical to start the legal process as soon as possible. Contacting a wrongful death attorney right away gives them more time to investigate and build your case. Waiting until the statute of limitations almost expires puts an unnecessary time constraint on the proceedings.  Wrongful death cases are complex, and investigations can often take a fair amount of time. By starting earlier, you avoid rushing into litigation. 

You may also have a lot of questions for your wrongful death attorney and how best to proceed. With skill, aplomb, and experience, Pracht Injury Lawyers has helped clients get up to $20 million in damages following a wrongful death. Trust us to pursue the justice and fair compensation you and your family deserve.