South Carolina Car Accident Statute of Limitations Overview
Regardless of the situation, if you find yourself involved in any sort of legal conflict, you should always make sure that you understand the relevant statute (or statutes) of limitations. Statutes of limitations are rules that limit the amount of time parties have to pursue legal action related to a given incident.
In criminal law, for example, statutes of limitations limit the amount of time during which a state or federal government can prosecute someone for an alleged crime. Once the statute expires, the government can no longer prosecute that specific crime.
Every state in the US applies statutes of limitations, including South Carolina. Statutes of limitations also apply in civil claims. However, as with different crimes, different types of civil claims are subject to different statutes of limitations. The most common statutes of limitations most people come across in their lives are those surrounding car accidents.
If you want to know more about the statute of limitations for car accidents in South Carolina, you have come to the right place. As home to some of South Carolina’s premier car accident attorneys, we put together a quick rundown on the relevant statutes of limitations for car accidents in South Carolina.
South Carolina Car Accident Statute of Limitations
As noted, every type of legal action is typically subject to a statute of limitations. South Carolina car accidents are no exception to the rule. The statute of limitations for South Carolina car accidents is three years from the date of the injury. If you lost a loved one in an accident, you have three years from the date of their death to seek damages through a wrongful death claim. It’s essential to file your claim before the statute of limitations expires—this can make or break your case.
South Carolina Car Accident Statute of Limitations: Exceptions
In law, there are almost always exceptions to general rules. This includes rules like a statute of limitations. South Carolina’s car accident statute of limitations includes a few exceptions that are notable. It is important to keep these exceptions in mind as they can extend the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit.
The Discovery Rule
One notable exception, known as the discovery rule, is common throughout the country. Basically, this exception says that a statute of limitations only starts to run when the affected individual discovers it. How could this apply to a car accident? Some injuries don’t appear right away. Back and neck injuries often go unnoticed for periods of time. Thus, if you only discover your injury three months after your accident, the statute only starts to run on that day. Importantly, the statute contains a qualifier: for it to apply, you must show that you exercised real diligence, initially, to find the injury. If you don’t get a checkup or any sort of medical evaluation after your accident, for example, courts could find that you should have discovered your injury sooner. In that case, the statute of limitations would start to run on the date of the accident.
Liability of The State
Another notable exception applies when the government or a government agency is the defendant in your claim. This exception is found in South Carolina’s Tort Claims Act. The act applies a special set of rules that limits government and government agencies’ civil liability. For civil claims against the government, the statute of limitations is just two years from the date of the accident. Because the Tort Claims Act is a complicated piece of legislation, you should always talk to your lawyer right away if you need to file a claim against the government.
There are a few other exceptions that can “toll” or pause the car accident statute of limitations beyond. These exceptions depend on your status at the time of the accident.
If you are, at the time of the accident, under the age of 18, or affected by insanity, disability, or some other form of incapacity, the statute of limitations will toll until the incapacity is removed. At that point, you have an additional year to file your lawsuit. This means that if you are under 18 when the accident occurs, you will have until the later of three years after your accident or your 19th birthday to file a claim. If you are incapacitated, you will have a year after you recover your faculties to file your lawsuit. However, even if you are incapacitated, you cannot file your accident claim more than five years after the date of the accident. When you go for your initial consultation with your attorney, always make sure to ask them if any exceptions might apply to the statute of limitations in your case.
Don’t Let The Statute of Limitations Pass You By: Call The Peace Law Firm Today
If you were hurt in a car accident and want to recover damages, start the process today. The longer you wait, the closer you get to the statute of limitations. Wait too long, and you might jeopardize your claim entirely. Instead, get started with the Peace Law Firm today!
At the Peace Law Firm, we have helped our clients move forward from difficult situations since 2002. For us, it’s not just about making money. Instead, our goal is to step up and advocate for the injured and the mistreated because that’s what’s right.
Contact us for a free consultation today, and let’s get started!