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How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury in South Carolina?

In the aftermath of a car crash, you might not know whether your injuries are serious enough to act on them. The thought of filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit might seem like a lot of hard work – made even harder if you are dealing with a serious injury. As such, many people delay their claims, but how long can you delay before it hurts your case?

Any delay can hurt your case, so it is always better to talk to a lawyer and act early. That being said, “early” can mean anywhere from the day of your accident to a few weeks afterward without much harm. Especially if you have been documenting your injury and getting medical care, waiting to file a claim is not uncommon. However, there is an ultimate filing deadline of 3 years under South Carolina’s statute of limitations.

For a free case evaluation, don’t delay any longer; call Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers’ South Carolina car accident attorneys at (803) 451-4000 today.

Deadline to File Injury Claims for South Carolina Car Accident Cases

Car accident cases in South Carolina are usually filed either as an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s policy or a personal injury lawsuit against the driver (or both). With insurance, the rules might be a bit different, and you might have some first-party benefits on your insurance policy that can also help you. However, when filing your lawsuit in court, the absolute deadline is three years from the accident.

S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-530(5) sets out the 3-year statute of limitations for injury cases, blocking any car accident lawsuits filed more than three years after the crash takes place. This rule is in place to prevent old cases from coming forward with potentially weak evidence.

However, three years is a long time to go without getting reimbursed for expensive medical procedures and other damages, plus it severely weakens your case to wait so long. As such, you should file much sooner.

When is it Realistically “Too Late” to File an Injury Claim for a Car Accident in South Carolina?

While three years is the absolute deadline, you run into trouble if you wait a while to file your case, even if you are still under the 3-year deadline. There is no hard and fast cutoff, and our Lexington, SC car accident lawyers encourage you to call for a free case review if you think you have a case, no matter how far along you are after the accident. However, a few facts might hurt your case if you delay.

Never Got Medical Treatment

If you delay medical treatment, it will severely hurt your case. Without medical records showing when you received your injuries, how bad they were, and what treatment you needed to recover, it will be harder to prove that you suffered any harm from the crash. It will also be difficult without medical records with clear dates of treatment to prove that your injuries were from the accident in question and not some other accident that took place later.

A long delay of a few months without medical care might mean it is too late to file a strong case but certainly check with a lawyer. If you received prompt medical care and have good records of your injuries, then waiting a few weeks or a month to heal up should not hurt your case too much.

Never Collected Evidence

Failing to report the car accident to the police, failing to take pictures of evidence, or failing to get the other driver’s name will make it much harder to prove that a crash occurred, let alone who was responsible for it. Without evidence, it can be very hard to file your case, and waiting too long to collect evidence might destroy your case. As such, you should call our lawyers and look into collecting evidence for your case right away – do not delay any longer.

If you reported the crash and have some evidence, our lawyers can get car accident reports and potentially call witnesses listed in the report even months after the accident. In fact, a police report probably isn’t going to be available anyway for about two weeks after the accident.

Time Needed to Prepare a Case

Our lawyers will need time to research the facts of the case, speak with you to get our facts in order, and assemble the paperwork and filings needed to bring your case. This preparation usually takes a few months, so waiting until weeks before the 3-year deadline will make filing the case on time very challenging.

Even though you might technically have three years to file your case, you should contact a lawyer as soon as you can. There are ways we can help collect evidence and prevent it from being lost or destroyed in the weeks following the crash, and any delays might ultimately mean lost evidence and forgotten facts. Additionally, a case that starts sooner might end sooner and get your damages paid earlier.

Risks of Delaying an Injury Claim for a South Carolina Car Crash

As mentioned, if you wait too long, you won’t be able to file your case. Cases filed after the statute of limitations has run simply cannot be filed and automatically result in a loss.

Even if your case is filed on time, any delays in getting medical care, collecting evidence, and calling a lawyer can hurt you in some ways. Even the fact that you talked to the insurance companies before getting guidance from our lawyers could damage your case. As such, you should call as soon as you can, even if you have already delayed. It truly is a “better late than never” situation.

Until then, do not talk to anyone about your case, do not sign anything, and do not accept any money for the accident before talking to a lawyer.

Call Our South Carolina Car Accident Attorneys Today

For a free case evaluation, call the Columbia, SC car accident attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers at (803) 451-4000.