I wouldn’t be a good lawyer if I didn’t give you the cliché answer of: “it depends.”
Most people generally assume and are usually right that you have three years to bring a civil claim in South Carolina. However, there are many circumstances in which you have even less time than usual.
Let’s say you’re driving through crazy Lexington traffic on Sunset Blvd right around the time school gets out. If another parent strikes you, you’re safe with assuming you have three years to file a lawsuit. But if a school bus coming from Corley Mill Road carrying students from River Bluff High School just so happens to hit you. Or maybe you’re downtown trying to grab Dunkin’ Donuts and navigating the crazy intersection by Dreher High School at Devine Street, Adger Road, and Ott Road.
Suppose you happen to be struck by a utility vehicle driven by the city, county, or state. Suddenly, you’ve now got even less time than usual to file in court.
Under South Carolina law, government and state entities and charitable entities (including some hospitals) are protected by the South Carolina Tort Claims Act. This law gives many protections to the state, but perhaps the most urgent is that it shortens your statute of limitations to two years. However, there are ways that a lawyer can help you extend that timeframe by filing something called a “verified TCA form” with strict requirements with the appropriate parties to protect your claim. Extending this time is essential because once you enter litigation, it often becomes apparent that there may be persons important to your lawsuit that you didn’t initially know about.
Because the Tort Claims Act also protects charitable entities, it’s essential to do everything you can to act as quickly as possible to protect your claim and find all necessary parties to your lawsuit. Not all charitable entities are apparent, as it depends on the type of business they are registered as – not what good they may or may not do for the community.
Don’t wait; contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Columbia so that they can help you distinguish whether the defendant in your case falls under these exceptions and help you protect your legal rights.