What is the South Carolina Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?

South Carolina wrongful death statute of limitations

Losing a loved one is hard. However, losing a loved one due to someone’s negligence or misconduct can be even more challenging.

Those responsible for a wrongful death need to be held accountable. But you need to know that there is a time limit on filing a lawsuit for wrongful death. This time limit is called the “statute of limitations.”

In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is 3 years. This period begins from the date of the deceased's passing, allowing plaintiffs up to three years to initiate legal action against the party deemed responsible for the wrongful death

The South Carolina wrongful death statute of limitations is somewhat complex. Below, we will go over some of the details of the statute of limitations for wrongful death in South Carolina to help you understand how long you may have to file a wrongful death claim.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim arises when someone kills another through a wrongful act or negligence. The responsible person is liable for damages arising from the victim’s death. A death caused by driving drunk, for example, would likely be considered wrongful.

South Carolina Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for wrongful death in South Carolina is generally three years from the date of the victim’s death.

So when someone is killed by a reckless driver, for example, the victim’s family would have three years from the date the victim died to file their lawsuit. But there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations.

Medical Malpractice

Medical Malpractice claims are a bit different than regular wrongful death claims. The victim’s family should bring such claims within three years of when the injury was or reasonably should have been discovered.

So if the injury is evident from the onset, but the family does not find it until six months later, the statute of limitations will probably be from the date of the injury. In any event, medical malpractice claims cannot extend past six years from the date of injury.

Claims Against the Government

For wrongful death claims arising from government action, the family has two years to file a lawsuit.

So, for example, the family of a victim who a police officer negligently kills would only have two years (not three) to file the wrongful death lawsuit. Some hospitals are government-run and may fall under the shorter limitation period.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in South Carolina

Wrongful death claims can be brought by the victim’s close family members, such as a spouse or child of the victim.

If there is no spouse or child to file a claim, the victim’s parents can file. If there is no surviving parent to file, then the claim can be brought by the victim’s heirs or by the administrator of the victim’s estate.

What Happens If You Miss the Deadline?

Most likely, missing the deadline means your claim will be barred. It may be possible to extend the deadline in some circumstances, like reasonable discovery in medical malpractice cases.

That said, it’s risky to think you will be able to extend the deadline. Time runs out faster than you may believe on wrongful death claims. The safest option is often to file the claim well before the statute of limitations lapses.

Navigating Exceptions to the South Carolina Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

Understanding the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in South Carolina is crucial, but navigating its exceptions can be complex. While the general deadline is three years from the date of the victim's death, exceptions exist that can extend or shorten this period, making expert legal guidance indispensable.

In cases of medical malpractice leading to wrongful death, the statute may extend to three years from when the malpractice was discovered, rather than when the death occurred. However, no claim can be initiated more than six years after the malpractice event, regardless of the discovery date. This "discovery rule" acknowledges the reality that the harmful effects of medical negligence may not be immediately apparent.

Claims against governmental entities require prompt action, as the statute limits such claims to two years. This shorter timeframe underscores the importance of consulting with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.

Navigating these exceptions demands a thorough understanding of South Carolina law and an experienced legal partner to guide you through the process, ensuring that justice is sought within the permissible time frames.

Call a South Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Time is a precious commodity in wrongful death claims. And every day that you don’t file, you risk missing your window.

It may seem overwhelming at first, but the Peace Law Firm can help. John Peace has been practicing law in South Carolina for over twenty years. John understands the South Carolina wrongful death statute of limitations. Our team has the experience to help you file your wrongful death claim. You don’t have to fight this battle alone.

Call 864-298-0500 or contact the Peace Law Firm today for your free consultation.

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