If you were injured in a South Carolina car accident by a negligent or reckless driver, you may be considering your legal options, specifically in terms of filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries. Don’t spend too long considering your options, though, because if you wait too long, you may run out of time.
South Carolina law requires that all personal injury plaintiffs sue for their car accident injuries within three years of the date of the accident. Certain exceptions do apply, but if you miss the appropriate deadline, you may wind up without any options for recovering the compensation that you deserve. We strongly urge you to seek medical attention as soon as possible for your injuries and contact a Sumter car accident lawyer.
Once you have had your injuries assessed and treated, reach out to the seasoned Columbia, SC car accident attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers to help you get your filings done discreetly, accurately, and on time. We can be reached at our offices at (803) 451-4000.
South Carolina Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits
Every state has a law, called the statute of limitations, that places a time limit on how long a plaintiff has to file their case after the cause of action arises. In the case of South Carolina car accidents, that time limit is three years. The three-year period begins to run on the date that the cause of action accrues, which is almost always the date of the accident.
For instance, if your accident occurred on January 10, 2022, you would have until January 10, 2025, to file your official complaint in the appropriate South Carolina state court. If you miss the deadline, the other side will file a motion to dismiss your claim and the court will likely grant it, barring you from recovering any of the compensation that you would have been owed if you had filed on time.
There are certain exceptions that may toll (or pause) the statute of limitations for a given case. For instance, if the defendant leaves the state and is unreachable, the clock stops running until they reenter the state. If the injured victim was a minor at the time of the accident, they have until their 18th birthday before the clock even begins to start running.
The statute of limitations is not the only requirement of which you should be aware, particularly if your accident involved a bus, sanitation truck, or other government-operated vehicle. In order to sue an agency of the government, you must obey the various notification requirements set out by that government. Essentially, this means that you have to let the government know that you are planning to sue them before you actually do. The notification requirements vary depending on which federal, state, or municipal government you are targeting in your suit.
Our South Carolina car accident attorneys are familiar with the various procedural requirements throughout the state and can help you avoid missing any deadlines that apply to your claim.
When Should I Report My Car Accident?
For any car accident in South Carolina that results in either death, bodily injury, or at least $1,000 in property damage, the owner or driver of any vehicle involved is required to file a written collision report. This requirement is not to be confused with the official police report on the car accident, which should be filed by the officer who arrives on the scene of the accident.
The appropriate information should be collected and submitted in Form FR-309. This form should be completed and submitted to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles less than 15 days after the date of the accident. You should include proof of liability insurance in your submission. You can mail your form to the address indicated on the form.
When you sit down to prepare your report, you should have the following information available:
- Names of all drivers, passengers, and other individuals involved in the accident
- Insurance information for all parties involved
- Names of witnesses to the accident
- Photos or descriptions of the accident site
- Descriptions of the vehicle damage and bodily injuries
If you fail to report your accident within the 15-day period, you might lose out on the compensation that you would otherwise be owed. Many insurance providers put language in their policies that allow them to deny claims for accidents that the victim doesn’t properly report.
How Long Do I Have to Seek Medical Care for Injuries After a Car Accident in South Carolina?
Technically, there is no deadline for when you must seek medical attention and treatment for your injuries if you want to sue for car accident injuries in South Carolina. However, the amount of time that you wait to have your injuries addressed will have a direct impact on your ability to recover. Getting medical care immediately shows that you are serious about your injuries and also reduces the other side’s capabilities to argue that you sustained your injuries somewhere other than the accident.
If for no other reason, you should get the medical attention that your injuries require as soon as possible because your health should be your number one priority. Sometimes, the only way to prevent conditions from worsening is to identify them early and treat them appropriately. In the case of many common car accident injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), internal bleeding, and whiplash, the only way to identify these injuries might be with a thorough medical assessment. For this reason, we strongly urge you to visit an emergency room as soon as you possibly can.
Questions About the South Carolina Statute of Limitations? Our Attorneys Can Help
No matter where you are in the process of your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, it is never too early to consult with the Columbia personal injury lawyers at Burriss Ridgeway. It can, however, be too late, so pick up the phone and call us today at (803) 451-4000.