Are You Too Late How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim

Are You Too Late? How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim

Being injured at work or in an accident that wasn’t your fault can have a devastating impact. You might be left unable to work for months — and with hefty medical bills, you may not be able to afford with no money coming in.

Then, there’s the emotional aspect of recovery. If you were in a serious accident, all of your energy may be spent on getting better or adapting to a life-changing injury, so filing a lawsuit is likely the last thing on your mind.

But sooner or later, you might wonder whether you’re entitled to compensation. But are you too late, and just how long after an accident can you file a claim?

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

 The statute of limitations is the time limit that any person has to file a legal action. This can get complicated very quickly, though, because every jurisdiction has its own statute of limitations that can vary for different claims — and there are always exceptions to the rule.

 For example, South Carolina is unique in that, unlike many other states, there is no statute of limitations for criminal cases, meaning prosecutors can file criminal charges at any time, even years or decades after a crime has been committed.

But what about personal injury claims?

The statute of limitations in South Carolina for personal injury cases — or how long after an accident you can file a claim — is three years.

When Does the ‘Clock’ Start for Personal Injury Claims?

In most cases, the three-year “clock” starts from the date you sustained the injury for which you want to file a personal injury claim. For example, if you were in a slip or fall accident, you would typically have three years from the date of the incident to file your claim.

If you miss the deadline, your case will likely be dismissed, but there are exceptions, including:

  • If the injured person is under 18
  • If the injured person has been declared insane
  • If the person responsible for your injury leaves South Carolina for one year or more before you can file a lawsuit.

In these cases, the deadline may be extended, giving you longer to file.

How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim if a Loved One Has Died?

If your loved one was tragically involved in a fatal accident and you wish to file a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations remains the same.

However, the “clock” will start ticking from the date of their death, rather than the date of the accident when they sustained their injuries.

For example, if a family member was in a car accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury that later caused their death, you would have three years from the date of their death to file a claim for compensation.

How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim if You Are Suing the Government?

One of the key exceptions to the statute of limitations in South Carolina is for lawsuits against the government. If you wish to file a personal injury claim against a county hospital, local police department, or government official, you have just two years to make a claim.

However, a unique rule applies to cases involving medical malpractice.

In this case, you have three years from the date the medical malpractice occurred, or three years from the date it reasonably ought to have been discovered” (as long as it’s no longer than six years from the original incident).

But what if you have an operation and discover years later that a foreign object left in your body has caused a severe infection? South Carolina law recognizes that some errors are not discovered until years after the event, and it has special measures in place for these scenarios.

In this case, the six-year limit does not apply, and you can file a lawsuit within three years after discovering the negligence.

How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim if You’re Injured at Work?

If you’re injured at work, you may be eligible to file for workers’ compensation. This is a type of insurance taken out by companies that covers expenses such as medical bills, lost wages, and funeral costs for fatal injuries.

In most states, workers’ compensation is mandatory for the majority of companies. In South Carolina, only certain companies (such as those employing fewer than four people) are exempt from having this compensation.

Workers’ compensation claims differ from personal injury claims in several ways, including:

  • How long after an accident you have to file a claim
  • What steps you must take to file a claim
  • The amount of compensation you’re entitled to.

Workers’ compensation is typically easier to claim because you don’t have to prove your employer was negligent or reckless — only that you sustained the injury at work. However, this also means you are not entitled to claim for damages such as loss of enjoyment or for pain and suffering.

When making a workers’ compensation claim, time is of the essence.

In South Carolina, you have two years from the date of your work injury to file a claim, but there are additional deadlines you need to be aware of.

You must also make sure that you notify your employer of your injury within 90 days, making it clear your injury happened at work.

If you’ve sustained a minor injury at work, you may be tempted to downplay your injury and hope it will improve on its own. However, minor injuries can worsen, especially if caused by repetitive motion (such as lifting or moving heavy objects).

You may be tempted to wait until your injury gets worse before reporting it to your employer, but you risk missing out on your chance to make a claim. Your employer may also argue that you didn’t get hurt at work, especially if you don’t have evidence from when it initially happened.

However, as with most personal injury cases, there are exceptions. If you become ill because you’re inhaling toxic fumes or working with chemicals, for example, you have 90 days from when you discovered the injury or illness (or could have reasonably been expected to) to tell your employer. You may also have longer to report your injury to your employer if you’ve had prolonged treatment that has stopped you from reporting it sooner.

How Soon After an Accident Should You Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Whatever your injury, your first step should always be to seek medical treatment. If you’re filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should also tell your employer immediately after.

Then, your next step should be to speak to a personal injury lawyer about your case. The law is complex, and the statute of limitations can vary depending on the specifics of your accident and injury.

Our expert personal injury lawyers in Greenville, SC, can advise you on your best course of action and help you get the justice you deserve.

If you’re not sure how long after an accident you can file a claim, our dedicated attorneys at The Clardy Law Firm can evaluate your case and get the ball rolling if you have a claim. Get in touch with us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling (864) 233-8888 or filling in our contact form.

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If you or a loved one was injured in South Carolina, we offer a free, no-obligation case review so you can see how we can help.

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