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South Carolina Medical Malpractice Law - An Overview

Important Notice: The following overview of South Carolina's workers' compensation laws is presented on an as-is basis. This information is believed accurate as of the date of authorship, but is not intended to provide a complete analysis analysis of medical malpractice law and may not reflect subsequent changes in the law. For a full review of South Carolina's medical malpractice law, or for a determination of how the law applies to a specific incident or injury, please consult a malpractice lawyer licensed to practice in the state of South Carolina.

Contents

What Is Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice, sometimes referred to as medical negligence, occurs when a health care provider violates the governing standard of care when providing treatment to a patient, causing the patient to suffer an injury. Medical malpractice can result from an action taken by the medical practitioner, or by the failure to take a medically appropriate action. Examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis of, or failure to diagnose , a disease or medical condition;
  • Failure to provide appropriate treatment for a medical condition;
  • Unreasonable delay in treating a diagnosed medical condition;

Medical malpractice actions can be brought by the injured patient against any responsible licensed health care provider, including doctors, counselors, psychologists and psychotherapists.

Limits on Malpractice Damages

South Carolina does not impose caps on damages in medical malpractice cases.

Collateral Source Rule

Under the collateral source rule, a defendant may not seek to reduce its liability by introducing evidence that the plaintiff has received compensation from other sources, such as the plaintiff's own insurance coverage.

Rules for Expert Witnesses

South Carolina does not impose special restrictions on expert testimony in medical malpractice cases.

Joint and Several Liability

Under a traditional rule of joint and several liability, where more than one defendant is found liable for the injury suffered by a plaintiff, each defendant is individually liable for the entire amount of the judgment, such that if one defendant is unable to pay the other defendant or defendants are liable for the entire amount of the judgment. South Carolina limits joint and several liability for defendants found to be 50% or less at fault for the plaintiff's injury, by declaring they pay no more than twice their pro rate share of damages.

Statute of Limitations

Medical malpractice actions must be commenced within 3 years of the act or omission giving rise to the injury, or 3 years from the date the injury was or reasonably should have been discovered. Medical malpractice actions for the presence of a foreign object inside the body may be filed within the initial three year period, or within two years of discovery. No medical malpractice action may be filed more than six years from the date of the underlying act or omission regardless of the date of discovery. For medical malpractice actions involving minors, the statute of limitations may not be tolled more than seven years after the date of the act or omission giving rise to the claim, or one year after the minor's eighteenth birthday, whichever is less.

Limits on Attorney Fees

South Carolina does not impose special limits on attorney fees in medical malpractice cases.

Additional Rules

The South Carolina patient's compensation fund pays verdicts or settlements in excess of $200,000.00 per incident, or $600,000.00 aggregate for one year.

Why Use A Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice law is a highly technical field of law, and malpractice lawsuits tend to be fiercely defended by well-funded defense firms.

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be exceptionally expensive to pursue, with costs often exceeding $100,000.00. Due to the technical skills involved in prosecuting a malpractice claim, the possibility that an inexperienced lawyer may not be sufficiently conversant with the medical issues, or might make a technical error which causes a case to be lost or dismissed, and the very high costs the malpractice law firm typically must advance, an injured patient is very well served by going with a specialist firm.

Even within the specialized practice of medical malpractice law, you will find that some lawyers have subspecialties of practice, for example focusing on surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or birth trauma cases.