Statute of Limitations in South Carolina for Personal Injury Suits

joe-personal injury castHow long do you have to file a personal injury suit in South Carolina?

When you are injured in South Carolina, you only have a limited time to file your personal injury suit. Bottom line. Depending on what your injury is, or what type of suit you are filing, will affect the time that you have the bring suit.

The set amount of time that you have to file you suit is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” There are even certain circumstances where if the person becomes aware, or should have become aware of the injury. This is found under any federal or state rule called the “Discovery Rule.”

Most importantly, South Carolina statute of limitations laws may differ from those of other states. Here is the comprehensive list of how long a person has after having a personal injury occur in their life to file suit in South Carolina:

1: If the claim is one of negligence, such as a car accident, or a slip and fall case, you have three years from the date of injury to file suit.

2. If the plaintiff wishes to file a civil suit against the defendant for assault or battery, they have three years to file suit from the date of incident.

3. If there is a claim the plaintiff is making for defamation, they have two years after the defendant “publicized” the false statement to bring suit. This personal injury is more one towards reputation.

4. All strict liability claims, meaning that there is no fault on part of the defendant, but he is still forced to pay, must be brought within three years.

5. If there is an injury due to a product malfunction, under a South Carolina product’s liability claim, the plaintiff has three years to bring suit since the date of injury.

6. Lastly, when the victim/plaintiff is killed in a wrongful accident, the family or estate of the victim has three years to bring suit against the defendant.

If you have become victim to any of the aforementioned injuries listed above, contact the personal injury attorneys at Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999 for more information.

South Carolina Hypothetical: Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Hypothetical: On May 21, 2011, Julius Orange and his mother were driving home in separate cars on Interstate-77 in York County, South Carolina.  Julius was following his vehicle several car lengths behind his mother’s car.  As Julius’ mother approached the intersection, a dump truck, owned and operated by Acme Landscaping Company and driven by Dog Bounty, ran a stop sign and slammed into Julius’s mother’s car.  The car rolled several times before coming to a stop on the shoulder of the road.  J’s mother was thrown from the vehicle onto the road and was killed.  Julius witnessed the collision and was the first person to come to his mother’s assistance.  Dog Bounty did not know that Julius was the decedent’s son or that she was following her mother that day.

Dog Bounty was convicted of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and a stop sign violation, and after the accident, Julius began to suffer severe psychological problems and consulted a clinical psychologist.  He was diagnosed with a disabling mental disorder as a result of the accident.  Julius also lost his job as a result of the accident.

Julius has timely filed a lawsuit against Dog Bounty in York County, South Carolina, setting forth the foregoing facts and alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) and mental anguish seeking compensatory damages, which he alleged were reasonably foreseeable.

Dog has filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.  How should the court rule on Dog’s motion to dismiss Julius Orange’s complaint?

The court should deny the motion to dismiss the claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.  The issue is whether the driver of a vehicle can be held liable for negligent infliction of emotional distress when he was not aware of the presence  of the third party.

To recover for NIED, the plaintiff must establish three elements: (1) the defendant negligently engaged in conduct; (2) it was foreseeable that the conduct would cause the plaintiff emotional distress; and (3) the conduct did cause severe emotional distress.  There are several factors to consider when determining whether the emotional distress to the plaintiff is foreseeable, including the plaintiff’s proximity to the negligent act, the relationship between the plaintiff and the injured party, and whether the plaintiff personally observed the negligent act.  While knowledge of the third party’s presence is essential in an intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) claim, this is not an element of NIED claim.

Here, Dog was negligent by driving through a stop sign without stopping and hitting and killing Juius’s mother, as evidenced by his conviction.  Considering each of the foreseeability factors separately, it is likely that Julius’s distress could be found foreseeable by a jury.  First, Julius was only a few car lengths away from the accident when it occurred, and he had full view of the accident, so he was in close proximity to the accident.  Second, he is the son of the injured party, so there is a close family relationship.  Finally, he personally witnessed the negligent act and was the first person to come to his mother’s assistance.  Julius satisfies all three factors, making it highly likely that it was foreseeable that the conduct would cause him emotional distress.  The conduct did in fact cause him emotional distress in that he developed severe psychological problems being diagnosed with a disabling physical condition as a result.  Also, the condition caused him to lose his job.  Therefore, because of all three of these elements for establishing NIED are supported by the facts, the court should not grant the motion to dismiss Julie’s complaint.

The following hypothetical properly distinguishes how a South Carolina court would likely look at a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim.  The tricky inner workings of such a legal problem illustrates the methodology the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP use to argue such a problem in front of a South Carolina court.  If you or a loved one has been injured or even killed in an accident, it is important that you know every potential claim you could have before for you.  In order to do so, you must ensure that you are properly represented.  For a consultation, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP at 803-548-4444, or toll-free at 877-374-5999.  We are located in Baxter Village in beautiful Fort Mill, South Carolina.