What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in South Carolina?
Before we dive into the specifics of South Carolina’s statute, let’s cut through some of the legalese and explain that a “statute of limitations” is a law that sets a time limit on your right to go to court and ask for a remedy for some type of harm -- that means filing a civil lawsuit. These deadlines vary depending on what kind of case you want to bring.
As with the majority of states, the statute of limitations that applies to a car accident lawsuit in South Carolina is almost always the same one that applies to any variety of injury case.
South Carolina Code section 15-3-530 sets the statute of limitations for any kind of case that could result from a car accident. That law gives you three years to ask the state courts for a civil remedy for any death, personal injury, or damage to personal property.
So, in the context of a car accident, that means if anyone was killed or hurt in the crash -- whether a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian -- or had their vehicle or other personal property damaged, they must get their lawsuit filed against any potential defendant within three years.
For injury and property damage cases, the three-year “clock” starts running on the date of the accident. But for a South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit stemming from a car accident, the “clock” starts running on the day of the accident victim’s death, which could be later than the date of the accident itself.
Whether it’s an injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, the case will almost certainly hinge on whether the allegedly-at-fault driver’s negligence was the cause. Learn more about Proving Fault for a Car Accident.
Having read all of this, you may be wondering what happens if you try to file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations deadline has already passed. In that situation, the defendant is sure to ask the court to dismiss the case, and the court is very likely to agree that a dismissal is appropriate.
It’s always a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit. At the very least, keeping all your options on the table will give you more leverage during car accident settlement talks. So if the three-year statute of limitations deadline is approaching, you may want to talk with an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney.
by: David Goguen, J.D.