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Car Accident Statute of Limitations in South Carolina

In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for legal action in a personal injury case is generally three years from the date of the injury. If you miss this time period, you can lose the right to take legal action.

Overview of Car Accident Statute of Limitations in South Carolina

The statute of limitations in car accident cases refers to the time limit within which a person must file a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries or damages. The purpose of the statute of limitations is to set a specific time period during which legal action can be taken. If the time period has passed, the opportunity to take legal action may not be allowed.

While the statute of limitations for a car accident in South Carolina is generally three years, it is important to consult with a car accident attorney to understand the specific time limitations that may apply to your case. In some cases, there can be exceptions or variations based on circumstances and specific laws.

Reporting and Timeframes in South Carolina Car Accidents

The statute of limitations “clock” begins on the date of the accident. The only exception is if a wrongful death lawsuit is filed from a car accident. In that case, the three year time period would begin on the day of the victim’s death which may not be on the same date as the accident. It is important to report an accident immediately to help preserve evidence and build a stronger case. According to South Carolina Code section 56-5-1270, the owner of a vehicle that is involved in an accident must report it to the SCDMV and send in a Traffic Collision Report form if the crash wasn’t investigated by the authorities. In South Carolina, you have 15 days after the accident to report the accident. If the accident is not reported, it may impact the ability to file an insurance claim or it could result in a misdemeanor or hit-and-run offense.

Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in South Carolina

Filing a car accident lawsuit in South Carolina requires several steps. First and foremost, it is important to make sure you are checked by a medical professional. Once you are safe and not in any immediate danger, consult with a car accident attorney immediately. They can assess the merits of your case, and begin guiding you through the process. The sooner you file your case after the accident, the better. This will help your attorney as they investigate the accident by gathering evidence such as police reports, photographs, video footage, medical records and any other relevant documentation. Once the case is assessed, your attorney can then begin negotiations to reach a settlement and file a formal lawsuit on your behalf if a settlement agreement can not be reached.

Exceptions and Special Cases in South Carolina Car Accidents

The Discovery Rule

The discovery rule in relation to car accidents creates an exception that says the statute of limitations only begins when the affected person discovers it. For example, if the injured party does not discover a back or neck injury (which may sometimes go unnoticed for a period of time) until four months after the accident, the statute of limitations would then begin on that day instead of the accident date. There is a qualifier, however, that the injured party must prove. They must show that they were diligent in trying to find the injury after the accident occurred. If they did not get checked by a medical professional right after the accident and waited until four months later, then the court may not accept the use of the discovery rule.

Liability of The State

Another exception where the statute of limitations may differ is when the government or government agency is involved. In South Carolina’s Tort Claims Act, this exception sets a special set of rules that limits the state’s civil liability. If you do file a civil claim against the government, the statute of limitations is shortened to only two years from the date of the accident. In this case, it is of utmost importance to speak with an attorney as soon as possible in order to file before the two year mark.

Other Exceptions

There are a few other exceptions to the South Carolina statute of limitations. These exceptions depend on your status at the time of the accident and can pause the statute of limitations beyond three years. If you are under the age of 18, affected by a disability, or incapacitated in any way, the statute of limitations is paused until you are 19 years old or no longer incapacitated.

Is South Carolina a “No-Fault” State?

South Carolina is not a no-fault state. Instead, it follows an at-fault based system when determining liability and handling insurance claims in the case of a car accident.

Compensation and Damages in South Carolina Car Accident Lawsuits

While the average settlement for South Carolina car accidents are unique to the specific circumstances of each case, there are common types that may be pursued. These can include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and more. Several factors may impact the amount of compensation awarded. For example, the severity of injuries, total cost of medical treatments, lost wages and income, property damage, and negligence.

Car Accident Statute of Limitations FAQs

Can You Extend the Statute of Limitations in a Car Accident Case?

Some circumstances such as age and incapacity from injuries at the time of the car accident may allow you to extend the statute of limitations.

How long after a car accident can you sue South Carolina?

If the defendant in your car accident lawsuit is the South Carolina government or government agency, you have two years from the date of the car accident to pursue legal action.

When does the Filing Window in a Collision Case Start?

The filing window in a collision case starts three years from the date of the accident. Filing for a wrongful death case due to a car accident begins on the date of the victim’s passing.

Can You File a Lawsuit Once the Statute of Limitations Expires?

It is generally not possible to file a lawsuit once the statute of limitations is up. In the event that you are able to file after the three year mark, the judge may dismiss the case simply because of late filing or the liable party may contest the suit and request a dismissal.


If you have been injured in an accident or lost a loved one because of an accident, contact the car accident lawyers at Philpot Law Firm immediately. The sooner we are able to start gathering evidence on your case, the better. Know your rights and let us fight for the compensation you deserve! Nobody Fights for You Like Family!