Personal Injury Claims Involving Government Entities

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Government employees and agencies can be negligent in much the same way as any private party. You are still dealing with human beings who do not always exercise the appropriate level of diligence at their jobs. When you have been injured by governmental negligence, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Contact the Beaufort personal injury lawyers at Schiller & Hamilton to learn more about your legal rights.

When Can You Sue the Government in South Carolina?

While there are numerous ways a government can be held liable for functions it fails to reasonably perform, the law provides a list of things for which you cannot sue the government.

For example, you cannot file a claim for “adoption, enforcement, or compliance with any law or failure to adopt or enforce any law.” Generally, the government cannot be sued when it is exercising discretion in the daily performance of duties.

You can file lawsuits when the government has acted negligently, much like any private person.

One of the more common reasons one sues the government is failing to properly maintain the roads. Not every roadway in South Carolina needs to be in perfect condition, but the government must maintain the roadways in reasonable condition and fix defects within a reasonable amount of time after they knew or should have known about them. Another reason to file suit against the government is for failing to clear hazardous conditions from walkways on their property, which lead to an injury in a slip and fall accident.

The Law for Suing the Government in South Carolina

In South Carolina, the general statement of the law is as follows:

“The State, an agency, a political subdivision, and a governmental entity are liable for their torts in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances.”

However, the law also clearly states that special rules and limitations apply when suing the state or another governmental entity.

Unlike other states, South Carolina allows you to sue the government directly in court without presenting your claim to them first. However, if you have filed a verified claim first, you would have additional time to file a lawsuit—up to three years as specified in the statute of limitations.

The Statute of Limitations When Suing the Government in South Carolina

You have a shorter statute of limitations when it comes to suing the government in South Carolina. In SC, you have two years from the date you were injured or should have known you were injured, to file a lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, you forfeit your right to financial compensation.

If you present a claim to the government within a year of the date of your injury, the statute of limitations expands to three years, giving you more time to sue. This additional time may provide an incentive to file your claim with the government first in an attempt to negotiate a settlement and avoid filing a lawsuit.

Limitations on Damages in Government Claims in South Carolina

South Carolina law imposes caps on how much you may be able to recover when you are suing the government. You are limited to $300,000 in damages for your personal injury claim. In total, there is a damages cap of $600,000 per occurrence, meaning you may be one of several people filing a claim against the same pot of money. In medical malpractice cases, the damages cap goes up to $1.2 million. Regardless of the caps, you should never forgo a claim against the government if you feel you are due compensation from the government for your injuries.

South Carolina law prohibits the recovery of punitive damages in personal injury lawsuits against the government.

Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Government in South Carolina

You can obtain the same types of damages when you are suing the government as you would in any other lawsuit (but not punitive damages). This includes both economic and non-economic costs of your injury.

Your lawsuit damages may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Embarrassment and humiliation
  • Emotional distress

If your loved one died because of the negligent acts of the government, your family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation.

Challenges When Suing the Government in South Carolina

The government may play hardball with claims in the same way an insurance company might.

Even if you file the case in court, you may still need to negotiate compensation with the government. Most lawsuits eventually end in a settlement agreement, although the government may drag out your claim.

Program officers and attorneys want to protect their annual budgets, and they are often judged by that metric. Do not assume the government wants to do the right thing simply because it is the government. In many cases, you can expect them to fight your claim, perhaps to trial.

Contact a Beaufort, SC, Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the attorneys at Schiller & Hamilton today. We are not afraid to take on anybody on your behalf, including the government. It costs you nothing to get started, and you never pay us unless you win your case. To speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can send us a message through our website today or reach out to us at 843-379-5006.

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