You can’t sue the state of South Carolina for injuries due to its actions. That doesn’t mean you must accept the situation.
You can pursue action through the South Carolina Tort Claims Act. This law, which covers cities, counties and agencies in addition to the state, allows people to recover damages. The Tort Claims Act is the exclusive remedy for any tort committed by an employee of a governmental entity. The limits are low compared to what a private business might face in a lawsuit. It doesn’t matter if the case goes to trial and the jury awards you $1 million. There’s a $300,000 damages cap in most cases. There are exceptions – there’s a higher limit for government health facilities.
There also are other important differences in cases where the government’s involved. A “verified claim for damages” may be filed and must be received within one year after the loss was or should have been discovered. SC Code Ann.§ 15-78-80 (d). In that claims process, you cannot file a lawsuit 1) until 180 days haved passed, 2) the court denies the claim or 3) the settlement is reached. The statute of limitations – the deadline for filing an action – is two years for a tort claim. For many lawsuits, such as personal injury or malpractice, plaintiffs have three years.
The South Carolina Tort Claims Act also protects the state, cities, and counties from damages resulting from improperly maintained roads or streets. Neither can people recover damages if a missing or malfunctioning road sign was a factor in the accident.
All told, there are 40 exceptions to the South Carolina Tort Claims Act. They cover everything from public hunting areas to students who self-administer medication at school. The law is complicated and ever-changing.
That’s why it’s important to consult an experienced attorney if you think you have an action against a state, county, or city agency under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act. We will analyze the facts and situation thoroughly and determine how best to proceed.
Because of the tight statute of limitations for these actions, it’s also important to proceed quickly. Delays brought about by trying to handle matters yourself or time spent trying to decide if you have a case can cause problems later.
The best way to find out if you have a case: Ask Burnette Shutt & McDaniel. We have the experience and legal knowledge to help you figure it out.