Are you worried about the statute of limitations for suing? Perhaps you’re dealing with circumstances that prevent you from filing sooner rather than later. Perhaps you’re a procrastinator. Regardless, South Carolina’s statute of limitations is usually three years.
The court won’t give you legal recourse if you miss the deadline. Plus, filing at a later date can affect your case negatively. In some cases, however, the court will allow exceptions.
This article will explain how a statute of limitations applies to your case. Let’s explore.
Why Are Statute of Limitations Necessary?
On one hand, the statute of limitations protects the interests of the defendant. If a plaintiff has a case, they should file within a reasonable time frame. If a plaintiff fails to file within a timely fashion, the defendant could lose vital evidence that would help his or her case.
With no limitations, a victim could sue a defendant decades after an accident. With so much of the evidence lost over time, the defendant couldn’t craft a strong defense.
However, filing deadlines can benefit the plaintiff as well. Both parties can gather information and evidence within the allotted time frame. As a result, you can gather fresh evidence, and you can find witnesses of the incident.
If you take too long to file, a witness may fail to remember key events. Further, you may lose vital witnesses that could have supported your case.
Also, your memory could falter as time goes by. Small details can make or break your case. Even if you can recall details long after the injury, the court may question your credibility because so much time had passed.
Plus, a statute of limitations adds structure to the evidence-gathering process. It gives you a time frame in which you must find witnesses, take photos, and collect documents. The limitations can streamline your research and encourage you to press forward.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Exceptions normally apply to the disabled and children. For children, they have one year after their 18th birthday.
If a 14-year-old was involved in a car accident, for example, they’ll have an additional year after they turn 18. For medical malpractice cases, the minor has three years after their 18th birthday to file accordingly.
For disabilities, the court could waive the three-year limitation if the handicapped victim cannot file within the deadline. Additionally, victims suffering from head injuries that impede their mental capabilities can receive an extension.
Victims suffering from mental complications can get a five-year extension from the day of the injury. If the victim suffered a medical malpractice injury, however, the standard three-year parameter applies.
The court may consider an extension for other reasons, such as:
- Bankruptcy cases that can stall civil lawsuits
- Imprisonment due to a felony, in which case the victim can file a claim upon release
- Extended negotiations with the defendant to cover medical bills and other expenses
In the case of negotiations, you can still file a lawsuit if talks fall through.
Do I Have Any Options if I Miss the Deadline?
Unfortunately, victims have no legal recourse if the statute of limitations passes. Other than the aforementioned exceptions, the court won’t allow you to file an extension and bring your case to a judge.
That’s why it’s important to file as soon as possible after you suffer an injury. If you’re concerned about missing a deadline, contact a personal injury lawyer to help you file on time. If you have a special circumstance that prevents you from filing, convey your concerns to the court as soon as possible.
The consequences of not filing a suit include:
- A Lack of Monetary Compensation: Without just compensation, you must pay for all medical costs and property damage out of pocket. You could face hard times if you’re dealing with long-term injuries and require ongoing care. In worst cases, you may struggle to support yourself financially, especially if you’re unable to work.
- A Lack of Justice: By failing to file on time, you’re letting the defendant escape justice. If the defendant engaged in reckless behavior, they may not learn any lessons and engage in the same reckless behavior in the future. As a result, future lives may be in danger.
Receiving personal compensation is important, but the civil system is also about protecting society. For instance, punitive damages are meant to punish defendants and make citizens think twice about reckless actions or gross negligence. Drunk driving victims, for example, can receive punitive awards due to the reckless actions of a drunk driver.
Punitive damages can vary, but it’s usually a hefty sum paid to you (the victim). If you miss your state of limitations, a reckless person could escape justice, especially if they escaped justice within the criminal system.
What if I'm Filing a Lawsuit on Behalf of a Deceased Victim?
The victim’s estate has the right to file on behalf of the decedent. You can seek monetary damages based on the victim’s suffering before death, including mental anguish. In South Carolina, the standard statute of limitation applies on the day of the victim’s death.
Is a Statute of Limitations for Suing Certain People or Entities?
When it comes to a statute of limitations for suing individuals or companies, the same three-year rule applies. In the case of government entities, however, public officials usually have immunity.
Overall, strive to meet the three-year deadline as much as possible. Gather all the necessary evidence within three years.
The limitations period works to your advantage. You’ll have a short window to assemble witnesses and find the appropriate evidence. If you take too long, you could lose evidence and witnesses.
Are you worried about missing the statute of limitations in South Carolina? Contact Burriss and Ridgeway Injury Lawyers to learn how we can help you file on time.