Individuals who have been injured in an accident or by an act of negligence have the legal right to hold that party liable and take action through a personal injury attorney in South Carolina.
Knowing when to hire a personal injury lawyer is important, because the South Carolina personal injury statute of limitations will render your claim void after three years. However, there are several exemptions and reasons why you may justifiably claim compensation later.
What Does the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Mean?
The three-year timeframe means that you need to file your claim within this deadline within three years of the incident. If you have a case against a government body, the statute is reduced to two years, regardless of the severity of the claim.
What determines the value of a personal injury case varies, and the claimable amount depends on the nature of the accident and the long-term impacts on your wellbeing. Where an enforceable lawsuit could be worth a substantial amount of compensation, however, it makes sense to contact an attorney as quickly as possible.
Statutes of limitations are strictly enforced, and while exemptions apply, there are very specific eligibility rules–so timely action will ensure you protect your right to seek reparations.
What Is the Discovery Rule in the South Carolina Statute of Limitations?
The discovery rule means that the three-year time limit officially begins when the personal injury victim should reasonably have known that they suffered an injury.
In many cases, this is obvious, such as when you have been hurt in a car accident, a dog has attacked you, or you have used a malfunctioning product that has caused harm, for example. In other cases, the exact date of harm may not be as clear, such as taking a medication that was wrongfully prescribed or prepared incorrectly.
There are separate rules for medical malpractice claims, as it may be several years before a patient discovers that they received unsuitable care. A six-year discovery rule applies where there is a genuine reason that the claimant could not have met the statute of limitations.
However, if a foreign object has been left in a patient post-procedure in a medical malpractice suit, the two-year statute applies from the date when the foreign object is discovered. The two years apply regardless of when the procedure occurred—the six-year deadline does not apply.
Note that the court may grant an extension, and it is often essential to have legal support to establish the reasons for the late claim.
What Are the Exemptions to the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in South Carolina?
There are special circumstances where the three-year general limit can be lengthened:
- Where the claimant is a minor, they can file a claim until their 19th birthday for an injury suffered at any point beforehand.
- In medical malpractice cases relating to a minor, the statute is seven years, regardless of the claimant’s age.
- If a victim has been mentally incapacitated due to an accident, they have five years to file a personal injury claim.
Can I File a Personal Injury Claim if I Am Approaching the Time Limit?
The statute of limitations applies only to the date that the legal case is filed. Investigations, hearings, and negotiations can take significant time to complete, and there is no defined limit on when the claim must be settled.
It remains advisable to initiate a claim as soon as possible, because the sooner you begin the legal process, the sooner you will receive a resolution and financial support. Filing closer to the date of the accident is also helpful from a litigation perspective, because the details and evidence will be fresh, and witnesses or involved parties will have a clearer recollection.
Therefore, it’s recommended you promptly contact a personal injury lawyer to begin the process toward a fair settlement as quickly as possible.