Time can help us heal and recover. However, letting time pass after being injured in a car crash is never a good idea. After you’ve been hurt, time is not on your side in terms of helping you get the compensation you deserve.
What is a Statute of Limitations? What does the statute of limitations have to do with getting compensation after a car accident?
Michael Jeffcoat of The Jeffcoat Firm Injury Lawyers, explains the statute of limitations and what you can do to keep time on your side.
What is the statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations is a time limit on how long you can bring a legal claim. It’s a maximum time that a person has to file a lawsuit.
What is the statute of limitations for a car accident claim in South Carolina?
Three years is the statute of limitations for a car accident claim that most often applies in South Carolina. The law is found at South Carolina Code of Laws § 15-3-530. The law creates the three-year time limit for an injury to a person that does not arise from a contract, including car accidents. However, under a lot of circumstances that hard deadline can frequently be much shorter!
How does the statute of limitations work?
The statute of limitations works by creating a deadline for claims based on an event. Usually, the clock starts ticking when the event occurs.
Who created the statute of limitations?
The state legislature created statutes of limitations. Representatives create these time limits by passing laws. There are significant differences between states for the time limits created by these laws.
The statute of limitations is not the same for every type of case. For example, under South Carolina law, the statute of limitations for a car accident is normally (but not always) three years. However, the limit is two years for actions relating to libel and slander (§ 15-3-550). There are other limits for other types of cases.
What happens if you miss the statute of limitations?
If you miss the statute of limitations, the other side may ask the court to dismiss the case. The dismissal is not automatic; the other side must ask for it. However, if they motion the court for dismissal, the court looks at the time limit. They do not look at the merits of the case when they decide whether to grant the dismissal.
If you file your case on the last day of the statute of limitations, are you okay?
Even if you file your case one day before the end of the statute of limitations, you can pursue your case in full. It doesn’t matter how long the case takes to work through the courts. What matters is that you got your paperwork filed on time. When you meet the deadline, you can work through the entire case on usual timelines.
If you notify the insurance company about the accident before the expiration of the deadline, is that enough for the statute of limitations?
No. Telling the insurance company that you’ve been in an accident isn’t enough to meet the statute of limitations. You usually need to notify the insurance company promptly, but that doesn’t save your right to bring a legal claim. Don’t be fooled if the insurance company is friendly or if they try to string out the case. Only formal legal documents filed in the appropriate court meet the requirements of the statute of limitations for your case.
Why do lawyers always want you to call now?
When you see ads for attorneys, they often say, “Call now!” Why do lawyers have such a sense of urgency? One of the reasons your attorney wants you to begin working on your case right away is the statute of limitations. They need time to investigate your claim, draft legal documents and determine which court has jurisdiction to hear it. Your attorney wants to ensure that you beat the deadline and take all the other steps to maximize your compensation.
Why shouldn’t you wait to contact a lawyer?
You should contact a lawyer right away because:
- The statute of limitations creates a time limit for filing a claim
- Evidence is easier to find and preserve in real-time after the accident
- Your attorney can guide you through the evidence-gathering process, including medical evaluations and medical documentation that can be critical to winning
- A lawyer can handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf; you don’t have to worry about what to say
It’s hard enough for you to get fairly compensated from the insurance company. When you contact a lawyer right away, you give yourself every advantage to make your claim a success. Winning your case starts long before your trial date. Your experienced personal injury attorney can be with you every step of the way to make the legal process easier and receive maximum compensation.
Attorneys for Help with the Statute of Limitations
The bottom line is that you must act quickly and have your case looked at by a lawyer to be sure!
Even if your case is open and shut, you must still comply with the statute of limitations to receive fair compensation. Don’t let the time limit stand in the way of you receiving what you deserve.
Have you been in a car accident? Contact The Jeffcoat Firm, Injury Lawyers to talk about your case. We can help you determine whether you have the right to file. Plus, we can work quickly on your case. Contact us today.