A car accident can upend your life in an instant. Seeking compensation from the at-fault party might be the furthest thing from your mind as you try to pick up the pieces and get back to your life.

Unfortunately, you don’t have unlimited time if you want to pursue compensation for your injuries. South Carolina law sets strict deadlines on when plaintiffs must file a personal injury lawsuit. Insurance companies often have even shorter notice timetables that must be met if you want to file a claim.

The South Carolina car accident lawyers at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel LLC are here to help if you’ve been injured in a crash. Since 1977, we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping accident victims pursue maximum compensation for their injuries.

Our firm is widely recognized for our legal services. We’ve received an AV Preeminent ranking from Martindale-Hubbell – their highest possible rating. Learn more about what we can do for you by calling our office in Rock Hill or visiting our contact page.

Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Lawsuit in South Carolina

There are a few different deadlines to keep in mind if you’re considering filing a claim for compensation after a car accident. One important deadline is South Carolina’s statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits. In most cases, you have three years from the date of a car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Several reasons make it so essential to keep the statute of limitations in mind if you’re considering a personal injury lawsuit. The first is that while most personal injury claims are settled out of court through an insurance settlement, you want to have the threat of a lawsuit available as leverage. Once the three-year deadline has passed, the other parties involved in an accident can simply ignore you because they know you have no way to compel them to pay up.

It’s also important to realize that three years can go by in a hurry. If you wait too long to start working on your case, valuable evidence could already have disappeared or been disposed of. Witnesses’ memories can fade, documents may have been destroyed, and so on. The sooner you talk to a lawyer and start building your case, the stronger your case will be and the greater chance you will have of getting full compensation for your injuries.

Dealing With Insurance Companies After an Accident in SC

While you have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident in South Carolina, the reporting requirements for your insurance company may be different. The amount of time you have to file insurance claims will depend on the time limit specified by your insurance company if you are pursuing compensation under your policy.

In most cases, insurance companies require you to file your claim “within a reasonable amount of time.” However, some insurance companies specify a specific time limit, such as 30 days. It’s important to look up any applicable deadlines immediately after the accident.

Dealing with insurance companies can be tricky because their financial interests do not line up with yours. They make bigger profits by paying out smaller settlements. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to communicating with insurers after a car crash:

  • Seek medical attention right away, even if your injuries seem minor at first.
  • Take pictures of the accident and any visible injuries, and hold on to those photos for future use.
  • Write down what happened as best you can remember while the details are fresh in your mind.
  • Get contact information from everyone involved in the crash, as well as anyone who might have witnessed the accident.
  • If your insurance company questions you, don’t let them record your statement and don’t accept responsibility for the accident.
  • Avoid saying “I’m sorry” or anything else that could be construed as accepting liability for the crash.
  • Talk to an attorney before agreeing to any insurance company settlement offer.

Legal Proceedings for Damages After a Car Accident in South Carolina

South Carolina law says that if anyone is killed or injured in an accident, the crash must be reported to law enforcement so they can investigate. State law further says that if law enforcement does not investigate an accident and someone was killed or injured, or if there appears to be more than $1,000 in property damage, the drivers involved in the crash must submit an accident report to the South Carolina Department of Transportation using form FR-309.

Once you’ve reported the accident to law enforcement and your insurance company, you’ll likely begin settlement negotiations with your insurer and the insurers for any other drivers involved in the crash. The insurers will look at the available evidence, determine who they believe is liable for your injuries, and make an offer.

State law allows car accident victims to claim compensation for many different kinds of losses, including:

  • Lost wages and diminished ability to work
  • Medical bills related to the accident, including the cost of future care you might need
  • The value of any damaged personal property
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional harm you’ve suffered (anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc.)

You should never accept an insurance settlement without speaking to a personal injury lawyer first. An attorney will know how to build a strong case to help you seek maximum compensation for your losses after an accident. They’ll also know if you’ve been given a lowball offer and can help you fight for more compensation.

Is It Possible to Get an Extension on the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in SC?

In rare and narrow circumstances, the statute of limitations in a car accident lawsuit can be extended. For example, children who are minors when injured in a car accident have up to one year from their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. However, these kinds of exceptions are extremely rare, so you should try to start your case as soon as possible.

Talk to a South Carolina Injury Lawyer to Start Your Case Now

The Rock Hill car accident lawyers at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel LLC are ready to assist you if you’ve been hurt. If you’re wondering how long after an accident you can file a claim or lawsuit, contact us now. Get a free case review today by calling our office, or fill out our contact form. We know legal issues can be stressful, but we’re here to help.

After he graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1987, Jim Tucker joined the law firm of McKinney, Givens & Millar in Rock Hill. He has remained with successor firms at the same location ever since while focusing his practice in the areas of family law and personal injury law. Jim is licensed in South Carolina and North Carolina, and he represents clients in both states at the trial and appellate levels. Jim is also a certified mediator and a highly active member of several state and local legal organizations who once served as President of the York County Bar Association.