If you or someone you know has been involved in a South Carolina car accident, you know that it can lead to confusion and stress. Between medical bills, car repairs, time out of work and other hassles, it can be so difficult to wrap your head around what has happened to you and to decide how you want to proceed. Although no one should feel rushed into action they aren’t ready for, it is important at least to be aware of the time constraints that exist for those interested in filing a South Carolina car accident case. To find out more about what these time limits are, keep reading.
What are statutes of limitation?
Statutes of limitations refer to laws that are on the books to create time limits for filing certain kinds of lawsuits. Statutes of limitation also exist in the criminal system, but this article does not address those types of statutes of limitation. With regard to civil matters, the statutes vary not only from state to state, but also depending on the specific injury at issue or type of potential defendant involved.
Discovery of harm
An interesting exception to the statute of limitation involves the issue of “discovery of harm.” This is a concept that says that the statute of limitations may not always run from the date that an injury first occurred, but can instead be suspended and only begin running from the date the plaintiff knew or should have known about the harm.
An example of this is if a person went in for surgery and the doctor left an instrument inside the persons’ abdomen before closing up. Though the date of injury would have been the day of the surgery, the plaintiff might not be expected to discover the injury until well after that moment. That means that if it takes a patient several years to discover the injury (assuming the delay is reasonable), then the statute of limitations can be extended from the date of the discovery of the harm, subject to certain other limitations under the law.
As was briefly mentioned, this delay must be reasonable. That means if you’ve been involved in an accident and your arm has been fractured, it is not reasonable to pretend you did not discover the harm until years later. That injury should have been immediately noticed and the clock thus began ticking on the date of the accident.
What’s the statute of limitation for personal injury cases in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, the law states that most plaintiffs have three years from the date of injury to bring a personal injury lawsuit. South Carolina Code Section 15-3-530 means that most plaintiffs have three years from the date of the car accident to file a personal injury suit against the person (or persons) responsible. In cases where the at-fault party is a governmental entity or governmental officer working in their official capacity, the statute of limitations is shortened to two years from the date of the accident.
Waiting longer than the statute of limitations to bring your personal injury lawsuit could result in your case being barred from court and a total loss of all compensation for the injuries you suffered. This is yet another reason why it is so important not to drag your feet if you’ve been harmed in an auto accident. As soon as you’re able, approach an experienced South Carolina attorney who can get the ball rolling on helping you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.