What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Lawsuit in South Carolina?
If you suffer an injury, the first thing on your mind may not be to file a personal injury lawsuit. After all, you likely needed to spend time seeking medical attention, receiving services, and recuperating from your injuries.
However, what if you discover later that your injuries were preventable? How long can you wait to file a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina?
What Are Statutes of Limitations?
The amount of time you can wait to file a lawsuit in a particular jurisdiction depends on the law in that jurisdiction. Statutes of limitations are laws that establish a deadline for when the courts can file civil claims or criminal charges. The laws exist to ensure that litigation proceeds efficiently.
In addition, statutes of limitations exist to prevent litigation in cases that may no longer have evidence, or in cases where memory has faded over time. Such cases can prove difficult to try, and result in inaccurate outcomes. Each state sets its own statutes of limitations, though the statutes differ depending on the crime.
What Are South Carolina’s Statutes of Limitations?
For personal injury, South Carolina sets its statutes of limitations at three years after the injury. However, this time reduces to two years if the defendant in the case is a government entity. The point at which the clock begins to run on the statute of limitations depends on how the discovery rule applies to the case; the type of injury can change how the discovery rule applies.
In South Carolina, the discovery date is the date you knew you received injury. Most injuries are apparent the moment you receive them. For instance, if a dog bites you, or if you break a limb during a slip and fall incident, you knew about the injury as it occurred. In other cases, however, discovery date can depend on other factors.
If you receive injury due to a long-term illness resulting from an incident, or side effects from a medication or toxin, the date of discovery does not occur until you learn of the injury. Sometimes, a defendant will argue you should have known at some particular date along the way. Whatever the source of your injuries, it is important you file a case as soon as possible after your injury.
Can the Statutes of Limitations Change?
In some circumstances, personal injury cases can hold different statutes of limitations. For instance, medical malpractice cases hold a statute of limitations of six years regardless of when the injured party discovers their injury. If the malpractice injury involved the placement of a foreign object in a patient’s body, the patient must bring the claim within two years from the date of discovery.
States can also choose to relax the statutes of limitations and extend the time allowed in a few specific situations:
- If the victim is a minor at the time of the injury, the statute of limitations extends past the minor’s eighteenth birthday by one year.
- Medical malpractice for minors. In the case of medical malpractice and a minor, the victim has up to one year after his or her eighteenth birthday to file a suit. However, the date of filing must not extend more than six years past the date of discovery.
- Mental incapacitation. If the patient was mentally incapacitated at the time of the injury, the statute of limitations extends for five years from the date of injury. However, in cases of medical malpractice, the statute of limitations remains the standard three years.
Other ways the Statute of Limitations could be extended
The only other instance in which South Carolina extends the statute of limitations is in the case that a victim’s injuries lead to death. Then, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death suit begins on the date of the death, not the date of the initial injury. Even survival action claims relating to the pain and suffering of the deceased while receiving medical treatment for the original injury begin the statute of limitations on the date of death.
We Can Help You with your Personal Injury Case
Here at the law firm of Fulton and Barr, we have a team with extensive experience fighting and winning Personal Injury cases. Our lawyers can help protect your rights and get you the compensation you are entitled to. We have more than 40 years of experience helping personal injury victims.
It all starts with a free, no-obligation consultation. Call the Greenville personal injury lawyers at Fulton & Barr law office today at (864) 235-3154.