If you sustain injuries in a car accident, it’s understandable that the first few days may bring a whirlwind of confusion. Your health takes top priority, but there are many accident-related tasks you need to do.
Unfortunately, many of these tasks have deadlines. You must meet these deadlines to avoid losing your right to seek compensation for your damages. How can you find out which deadlines apply to your accident? The Jeffcoat Law Firm explains.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
Court systems have deadlines, called statutes of limitations, for filing various lawsuits. Each state can set its statutes of limitations, which differ from state to state. Even within the same state, these statutes may vary by the type of claim and specific circumstances. Most states have rules for:
- Criminal cases
- Civil lawsuits
- Consumer debt
Some serious crimes have no statute of limitations. Civil lawsuits, such as those involving car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death and other types of personal injury claims, usually have a two- to four-year filing deadline.
Although there are a few exceptions, you lose your legal claim if you do not file a lawsuit before the deadline. Learning the statute of limitations that applies to your case is vital if you intend to obtain compensation.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in South Carolina?
Car accidents fall under personal injury claims. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for most car accident claims is three years from the date of the accident. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule:
- You only have two years to bring legal action against a government agency.
- Minors injured in a car accident have until their 19th birthday to file a lawsuit, regardless of how many years that is from the accident date.
- If you don’t realize you sustained an injury until after the accident, you can usually start the statute of limitations clock from the time you discover it.
To be sure you know the timeframe that applies to your case, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Jeffcoat Law Firm.
When Should You Contact a Car Accident Attorney?
Although you may have three years to file a lawsuit, that doesn’t mean you should wait that long to seek legal assistance. In fact, the sooner you call a car accident lawyer after your crash, the better outcome you are likely to have. Let’s look at some of the reasons:
- Availability of evidence: Investigators can typically find evidence much easier immediately after an accident. Video surveillance footage, photos, skid marks and other types of evidence may disappear or become lost over time.
- Record keeping: You should keep all accident-related bills, receipts and other documents to use as evidence in your case. You may inadvertently throw away vital documents if you don’t know what to keep.
- Witness memory: Witnesses may initially recall your accident vividly, but vital details may fade as time passes.
- Unintentional errors: Injured accident victims may damage their chance of obtaining reasonable compensation by making innocent mistakes, such as:
- Saying “I’m sorry” or other implications of guilt
- Not seeking or discontinuing medical treatments
- Falling for insurance company tactics intended to minimize payouts
- Broadcasting accident details on social media
Your attorney will provide case-specific advice to help you avoid these mistakes.
- Case building: It takes time for even the best lawyer to build a successful case. Waiting until the last minute to hire an attorney may limit their effectiveness.
Accepting an insurer’s initial offer usually isn’t wise. Your car accident attorney will negotiate for favorable compensation amounts, but settlement negotiations take time.
Most car accident claims settle without filing a civil lawsuit to collect compensation. Avoiding a trial is typically best for all parties involved due to the added costs, stress and duration.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help?
The average person doesn’t have experience handling car accident claims, but personal injury lawyers do. We know the applicable statute of limitations and other laws, and we know how to negotiate maximum settlements. When you hire The Jeffcoat Law Firm, we will also:
- Provide legal options and case-specific advice
- Handle administrative tasks
- Investigate your accident and gather evidence to support your claim
We can tell you how much your claim is worth during your free consultation.
Why Should You Choose The Jeffcoat Law Firm?
Our successful track record and dedication to providing aggressive, compassionate and honest legal representation to our clients has earned high ratings and awards. Requesting a case review doesn’t obligate you to hire The Jeffcoat Firm, and you won’t owe fees unless we win compensation for you.
Contact us 24/7 by calling (803) 200-2000, submitting our online form or using live chat.