Medical malpractice is one of the more highly regulated and complex types of personal injury claims that can be made in South Carolina and across the United States, particularly when compared to the more common claims made for slip and falls or auto accidents. In South Carolina, medical malpractice is defined as “doing that which the reasonably prudent health care provider or health care institution would not do or not doing that which the reasonably prudent health care provider or health care institution would do in the same or similar circumstances.” S.C. Code Ann. § 15-79-110(6). In layman’s terms, the action(s) or inaction of your health care provider is judged using a reasonableness standard.
The term “medical malpractice” encompasses a broad class of subcategories, which includes, but is not limited to:
- Misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis;
- Negligence resulting in pregnancy or birthing injuries;
- Prescription misfills;
- Surgical errors; and
- Elder abuse in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health care.
Bringing a Medical Malpractice Action in South Carolina.
In order to bring a medical malpractice action in South Carolina, it is important to collect all relevant medical records relating to your claim, which typically includes medical records from all treating health care providers both before and after the alleged malpractice has been committed. Once these records have been collected, they are generally sent to a medical expert for review to determine if your health care provider has breached the standard of care with regard to your treatment.
If the medical expert deems the appropriate standard of care to have been breached and a valid claim to exist, a lawsuit cannot yet be filed. Instead, as a prerequisite to filing an action for medical malpractice in South Carolina, a Notice of Intent to File Suit must first be filed. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-79-125. Only after the Notice of Intent to File Suit has been filed and the matter is not resolved through pre-suit mediation may a plaintiff bring a civil lawsuit by filing a summons and complaint.
Statute of Limitations.
You may lose the right to sue if you do not bring forth certain claims within a certain time period, also known as a statute of limitations. In South Carolina, you are generally permitted to bring a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice within three (3) years from the date of the act (treatment, operation, misdiagnosis, etc.) or omission that gave rise to the lawsuit, or from the time the injury was or reasonably should have been discovered. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-545(A). This type of medical malpractice lawsuit cannot be brought after six (6) years from the date of the occurrence, regardless as to when it was discovered.
South Carolina prescribes a two (2) year statute of limitations from the date of a surgery or operation if a medical malpractice action alleges that a foreign object, such as a surgery utensil or device, was inadvertently left in the patient. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-545(B). This type of medical malpractice lawsuit cannot be brought after three (3) years from the date of the occurrence, regardless as to when it was discovered.
Choosing the Right Lawyer for You.
As medical malpractice is oftentimes extremely complex in nature, both medically and legally, it is paramount that you choose a lawyer who has vast amounts of experience in bringing medical malpractice lawsuits. At Hughey Law Firm, we have handled hundreds of medical malpractice cases ranging from negligently performed surgery to delays in cancer diagnosis to elder abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Our experience in this field has allowed us to create an immense network of medical professionals on whose professional judgments we can rely to ensure that you or your loved one’s legal rights are protected when harmed by health care providers. If you believe that you or a loved one has been injured due to the neglect of a health care provider, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers to discuss what rights you have and how we may help.