When to File a Lawsuit against a Governmental Entity

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If you or someone that you know has been injured by the acts or failures to act of a South Carolina governmental body, whether that be the State of South Carolina, a county of South Carolina, a city of South Carolina, or any other governmental body or agency of the state of South Carolina (such as a division of law enforcement, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, etc…), there are certain legal factors you must be aware of. In more straight-forward terms, just think “government” and any groups that brings to mind likely falls under the scope of the Act. Not being aware of these could end any action against a governmental entity before it even begins.

When is a Government Body Considered Negligent?

The Act states that the government is responsible for their negligence in the same way a private party would be. This applies to employees of a South Carolina governmental body negligently injuring, governmental bodies or agencies failing to perform duties prescribed to them that cause injuries, failing to safely maintain premises or governmental property, and any other situation where a private party is liable to others for negligent acts.

South Carolina Statute of Limitations

A key distinction between lawsuits that fall under the Act and lawsuits against private parties is that the statute of limitations, or the time to file the lawsuit against the government, is two years rather than three. If a lawsuit is not filed by this time, the right to file a lawsuit is forever lost, regardless of the severity of the negligence of the government or the severity of the harm such negligence has caused. A caveat to this shorter statute of limitations period is that if a “verified claim” is made under the Act within one year of the injury occurring, the statute of limitations is extended to the typical three-year statute of limitations. This verified claim requires specific elements to be met, however. A verified claim must be provided to the proper body under the Act and it must set forth the circumstances which brought about the injuries claimed to be caused by the government, the extent of the injuries and damages, the time and place the injury or harm occurred, names of all people involved (if known), and finally the amount of damages claimed.

There are, of course, other factors to be aware of when preparing to initiate a law suit against the government within South Carolina. This includes how to properly serve a defendant that falls under the Act and what causes of action are available. Contact an attorney if you have been injured as a result of the government’s negligence to preserve your rights to recovery. Importantly, keep in mind that the time frame to successfully begin a lawsuit against the government is shorter than that of a lawsuit against a private party. Time is of the essence.

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