South Carolina’s statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims generally gives plaintiffs three years to file their lawsuit. Certain exceptions do exist that may affect the time limit, such as when the malpractice isn’t discovered until later or where a foreign body was left inside the patient.
Whatever the deadline is in your case, missing it will likely block your chance to recover for your injuries entirely. But a dedicated South Carolina medical malpractice attorney can help you avoid missing these deadlines if you seek legal help early.
Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers are here for you. For any questions about the statute of limitations in South Carolina and how it applies to your potential case, call our offices and get a free initial case evaluation from our seasoned South Carolina personal injury attorneys. You can reach us at (803) 451-4000.
South Carolina’s Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Statute of Limitations
Like other states, South Carolina has laws that limit the amount of time that potential plaintiffs have to file their lawsuit. These laws, known as statutes of limitations, vary depending on the type of lawsuit. For medical malpractice claims, the statute of limitations is three years. Lawsuits that are filed after the statute of limitations has expired will be thrown out and the plaintiff will be unable to recover.
The date when the clock begins to run is when the cause of action “accrues.” Normally, this is when the actual harm occurs. However, in some cases, the patient may not realize that they have been the victim of medical malpractice for some time after the damage has been done. For this reason, South Carolina law dictates that the clock should only start once the malpractice reasonably ought to have been discovered. Still, the statute of limitations requires that all medical malpractice lawsuits be filed within six years of the actual occurrence, whether the patient is aware of it at the time or not.
The Foreign Body Exception to the Statute of Limitations for South Carolina Medical Malpractice a Third-Party Service in South Carolina
The most notable exception to the medical malpractice statute of limitations in South Carolina is when the malpractice involves an item left inside the body. Though it may sound strange, this happens more than we’d all like to think. Surgeons and surgical assistants who are distracted or moving too quickly can simply forget to remove sponges, scalpels, or other surgical tools. Obviously, the consequences of such a mistake can be harmful to the patient’s health.
In these instances, the clock begins to run when the presence of the foreign object is discovered. The statute of limitations for these cases also provides a shorter two-year timeframe for filing. However, the general six-year deadline does not apply in the foreign body exception. This means that if you were to discover that your surgeon left a sponge inside you during an appendectomy eight years ago, you should still be able to file a lawsuit against them to recover damages, provided you do so within the next two years.
Notice of Intent Rules for South Carolina Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Before a medical malpractice victim even files their lawsuit, they must satisfy certain notice requirements. To do so, you must submit a formal notice of intent to file suit to the court and every party named in the suit. The notice of intent will serve to identify the parties involved and briefly clarify the reason for the lawsuit and the remedy sought.
The notice of intent should come with an expert affidavit from a medical expert witness. This affidavit must describe the negligent action or actions of the defendant that gave rise to the lawsuit. Your Columbia medical malpractice attorney can help you find a qualified medical expert who can explain your poor treatment and how it affected you in an expert affidavit.
Once the notice of intent and expert affidavit are filed with the court and served on the relevant parties, the clock on the statute of limitations is paused. At this point, the law dictates that the parties must come together in a mediation conference to see if they can resolve the issue before proceeding to court. The mediation must occur within three to four months after the notice of intent is filed.
When Should You Contact a South Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorney?
As we have mentioned, the deadlines imposed by the South Carolina statute of limitations are strict, and the consequences for missing them are severe. For this reason, you should look to contact a Columbia personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you suspect you may have a valid claim.
You can benefit from the assistance of an attorney even before filing your lawsuit or notice of intent. If you are contacted by the party responsible for the malpractice or their insurance provider, you will want legal counsel to do the speaking for you. That way, you can avoid making any statements that could be used against you or agreeing to a settlement that doesn’t get you the compensation that you deserve.
The only step that should take priority over contacting a lawyer is your own personal health. When you recognize that malpractice has taken place, you should waste no time getting competent medical attention that can help treat your condition and injuries. This medical care will also create a record that you can use to show the harms that the malpractice caused.
File Your Lawsuit on Time with Our South Carolina Medical Malpractice Lawyers
If you think you may have a valid medical malpractice claim in South Carolina, the clock is ticking. You can get the legal help that you need today from Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers. Call our offices for a free case assessment at (803) 451-4000.