As a plaintiff, you do not have an unlimited amount of time to file a claim in any personal injury case. The same holds true for medical malpractice claims. South Carolina is a little more favorable to plaintiffs than many other states. The Palmetto State gives plaintiffs three years to file a lawsuit from the date they were injured or should have known that they were injured. If the defendant is a government agency or a medical provider who left a foreign instrument in your body, the statue of limitations may be shorter.
Of course, you should not wait until close to when the statute of limitations expires to begin the legal process. However, most plaintiffs are well into what may be a multi-year process at that point. If they file a lawsuit right before the statute of limitations expires, it is because they could not reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company.
The Start Date Is Not Always Clear
In medical malpractice cases, the date where the statute of limitations begins to run can be in dispute. Often, a plaintiff will not know that they are injured until well after the doctor provided them with poor medical care. However, the exact date may be in dispute between the plaintiff and defendant. The defendant is trying to find any way that they can to escape what could be a multimillion-dollar liability. They may argue that you were injured far before the time that you said and should have sued earlier.
Most plaintiffs begin the legal process not too long after they are injured. Medical malpractice cases take some time to investigate. Before you make a claim or file a lawsuit, you need to know the facts and legal grounds that would entitle you to compensation. Your attorney will need to review your medical records with other physicians to establish what your doctor should have done in your case.
Then, you may need to go through the claims process if you choose to go down that route. Some people will try to settle their case by making a claim against the doctor's medical malpractice insurance. Many cases are resolved this way, but the insurance company is not always reasonable in settlement negotiations. They may drag the case to wear you down and convince you to accept less. By this time, you may be getting near to the three-year statute of limitations. Your attorney will need to be conscious of the time deadline. Missing it by even a day will cause you to lose the right to file a lawsuit.
When you engage an attorney, you can get started on what can be a very long process. Medical malpractice cases could drag on for years as the case makes its way through court. Discovery alone can be very complex, and it could take one to two years on its own.
To learn more about the medical malpractice lawsuit process, get in touch with our Charleston medical malpractice attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm. You can call us at (843) 314-4202 or contact us online to discuss your case.
What happens if the statute of limitations expires?
Your case will be dismissed by the judge, and you will lose your right to file suit.
When should I file my lawsuit?
You should leave yourself enough time that you are not running up against the statute of limitations but with enough time to prepare your case.
What takes time for your attorney to investigate?
Your lawyer will need to review your medical records and consult with medical experts to establish that the doctor was negligent.