is the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit in South
Like a lot of states, South Carolina has a specific “statute
of limitations” that anyone looking to file a medical
malpractice lawsuit must follow. This is a law that puts a strict limit on
the amount of time you have to go to court and get your case started. In South Carolina, that means filing not only
the initial complaint but also a sworn affidavit from a qualified expert
medical witness who must describe the factual basis for your claim and at
least one instance of misconduct on the part of the defendant(s).
You can find South Carolina’s statute of limitations for
medical malpractice lawsuits at South Carolina 15-3-545,
and it says that this kind of case must be filed “within three years from the
date of the treatment, omission, or operation giving rise to the cause of
action or three years from date of discovery or when it reasonably ought to
have been discovered, not to exceed six years from date of occurrence.”
In other words, you need to file the lawsuit within three years of the date on which you
were actually harmed by -- or could reasonably be expected to know that you were
harmed by -- the defendant’s medical error. But once six years have passed, your right to
file a medical malpractice lawsuit is lost in South Carolina, even if you didn’t know (and couldn’t have known) you were harmed by malpractice during that time,
subject to a few rare exceptions.
The most common exception to South Carolina’s overarching
six-year deadline is medical malpractice cases involving “the placement and
inadvertent, accidental, or unintentional leaving of a foreign object in the
body”, such as a medical instrument or a sponge after surgery. In those cases,
the lawsuit must be filed within two
years from the date on which the presence of the foreign object was
discovered, and the larger six-year deadline does not come into play.
If the lawsuit filing deadline has passed and you try to
file the complaint anyway, you can count on the defendant (the doctor or hospital
you’re suing) asking the court to dismiss the case, and the court granting the
motion. If that happens, that’s the end of your lawsuit. That’s why it is
crucial to pay attention to and abide by South Carolina’s medical malpractice
statute of limitations as it applies to your case.
by: David Goguen,