Children are often more susceptible to injuries due to their natural curiosity and lack of experience. Parents and guardians need to understand their legal rights and options. The statute of limitations in South Carolina for child injury cases differs from those involving adults.
Let us look at the child injury statute of limitations in South Carolina, detailing the key components and how they may apply to your specific case.
South Carolina’s Child Injury Statute of Limitations: Understanding the Differences
The statute of limitations for child injury cases in South Carolina differs from that for adults. The law recognizes that children may be unable to understand and act on their rights. As a result, South Carolina has special provisions in place for minors to ensure they have the opportunity to seek justice.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations for Minors
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims involving minors is “tolled” or paused until the child turns 18. This means that the three-year time frame to file a lawsuit does not begin until the child reaches the age of majority. Consequently, a minor who is injured due to another party’s negligence has until their 21st birthday to file a personal injury claim.
Exceptions to the Tolling Rule
A few exceptions to the tolling rule can impact the statute of limitations for child injury cases in South Carolina. These include:
- Medical Malpractice Claims: South Carolina law sets a different time frame for medical malpractice claims involving minors. A lawsuit must be filed within three years from the date of the injury but no later than the child’s 10th birthday, and this exception applies regardless of whether the injury is discovered immediately.
- Claims against Government Entities: If the negligent party is a government entity, such as a school district, city, or county, a different statute of limitations applies. In these cases, a claim must be filed within two years of the injury, and the tolling rule for minors does not apply.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is an important legal provision that sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. It determines the time frame within which an individual must initiate legal proceedings, failing which they forfeit the right to do so.
The primary objective of a statute of limitations is to ensure that lawsuits are filed on time, thus preventing individuals from using old claims to harass or harm others. These provisions help maintain the legal system’s integrity by promoting fairness and justice. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations varies depending on the type of claim being made.
For instance, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is generally three years, while that for contract disputes is six years. The statutes of limitations can also be affected by several factors, such as the age of the plaintiff, the nature of the injury, or the defendant’s identity. Understanding the statute of limitations is crucial for individuals who wish to pursue legal action and can impact the outcome of a case.
General Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in South Carolina
In South Carolina, if you have sustained injuries due to another party’s negligence, you must file a claim within three years of the injury date. Failure to file a lawsuit within this period will result in the forfeiture of your legal rights.
It is worth noting that the three-year statute of limitations applies only to adult claimants, while minors can file a claim within three years of turning 18. Adherence to the statute of limitations is critical to ensure evidence and witnesses’ reliability.
The statute of limitations aims to ensure that claims are filed in a timely manner while evidence and witnesses’ memories are still fresh. Waiting too long to file a claim can make it difficult to gather evidence, locate witnesses, and establish the necessary proof of negligence. Therefore, if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence in South Carolina, you must speak with an attorney to determine whether you have a valid claim and file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations to protect your legal rights.
Importance of Acting Quickly in Child Injury Cases
Although the statute of limitations is more generous for child injury cases in South Carolina, it is still crucial for parents and guardians to act quickly. There are several reasons to pursue a claim as soon as possible, including the following:
- Preservation of Evidence: As time passes, evidence may be lost, destroyed, or become less reliable. Quickly making sure evidence is preserved is critical.
- Witness Testimonies: Observers’ memories can fade or become distorted over time. Promptly gathering witness statements helps ensure their recollections are fresh and accurate.
- Medical Documentation: It’s essential to obtain complete medical records and documentation related to the child’s injuries. The sooner this is done, the easier it is to establish a connection between the injuries and the negligent party’s actions.
- Legal Representation: Engaging an experienced attorney early in the process can help ensure that your child’s rights are protected and that all legal deadlines are met.
Seeking Legal Assistance for Child Injury Cases in South Carolina
If your child has been injured due to the negligence of another party, it is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who is well-versed in South Carolina’s child injury statute of limitations. An attorney can help you navigate the complex legal landscape, ensuring that your child’s rights are protected and that you meet all relevant deadlines.
When selecting an attorney, choosing someone with experience handling child injury cases and a track record of successful outcomes is crucial. Your attorney should be able to guide you through the legal process, gather the necessary evidence, and effectively represent your child’s best interests.
Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your child’s rights and navigate the legal complexities that arise in such cases. Shelly Leeke Law Firm is happy to answer any questions you have concerning your case.