Personal Injury Filing Procedures in S.C. – How to File a Lawsuit

A large brick and stone courthouse with columns in the front in South Carolina.
There are essentially two ways to file a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina.

First, you can hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case. An attorney will know the law, the rules, and how to build your case and keep it on track. Second, you can file suit on your own without a lawyer.

For most cases, we don’t recommend filing a lawsuit without the help of a personal injury lawyer, but if you choose to do so, here are some things you should know. Throughout the article, I’ll share my thoughts on what pitfalls you might encounter pursuing an injury lawsuit on your own, and how to try to avoid them.

What’s the best course of action for you? Get clarity on your case with a free case evaluation. There’s no obligation to hire us afterwards.

Have You Already Filed a Personal Injury Claim Against the At-Fault Insurer?

Before you head to the courthouse, is a lawsuit really necessary? A personal injury lawsuit usually begins with a denied personal injury claim against the insurance policy of the other party. If you have not filed an insurance claim, you should do so before you proceed to file a lawsuit.

If the other person does not have an applicable insurance policy to cover your personal injury, then you may need to proceed to file a lawsuit. Here are some common injuries and the insurance policies that might apply:

Common injuries with insurance policies include car accidents, dog bites, accidents on private property & medical malpractice.

  • Car accidents typically involve the other driver’s car insurance policy, but there may be more. For example, if the driver does not own the car, you might have a claim against the owner’s insurance policy, even if the driver is uninsured.Multiple policies may also apply. For example, if both the driver and owner are insured, you may have a claim on both policies.


  • Accidents on private property generally mean a claim against the owner’s insurance policy. For example, if you fall and hurt yourself because of a hazard on someone else’s property, you may file a claim against that policy.


  • Dog bites in South Carolina may be covered by homeowner or property owner insurance policies. There are, of course, different rules that may apply depending on the circumstances (public property versus private property, for example).


  • Medical malpractice injuries can be claimed against the practitioner’s malpractice insurance, which most medical professionals are required to carry.

You might be surprised by what some insurance policies cover, and you might also be frustrated at how evasively they can be worded and what they don’t cover. Filing an insurance claim means trying to locate all applicable policies, analyzing them, and claiming appropriately.

Skipping this step could undermine your pursuit of compensation.

What Could Go Wrong

Filing a lawsuit without filing a claim may be a waste of money, especially if the insurance company is willing to make a reasonable offer (though our experience indicates that getting a fair offer often requires negotiation).

If you’ve simply refused to speak to the insurer, that may also work against you. It’s often best to save a lawsuit until you absolutely need to use it – such as the insurer acting in bad faith.

Need help filing your claim and trying to ensure you get all the compensation you may deserve? Call 1-866-900-7078 today for a free case evaluation.

In Which Court Should You File Your Lawsuit?

If your insurance claim is denied, you may choose to file a lawsuit in either 1) the county in which the accident and injury occurred or 2) the county in which the defendant lives. Once you’ve identified the county, you can file a personal injury lawsuit in a couple of different courts, and the court depends on the amount of damages you believe you’ve suffered.

You should select the appropriate county, right level of court & familiarize yourself with its rules & procedures when filing a lawsuit.

What Could Go Wrong…

If you handle discovery poorly, your lawsuit is in trouble. Keep in mind that each one of these methods requires very specific steps, and there are costs involved – a single deposition may cost $1,000, for instance.

You will likely lose if the other side has more evidence than you do to support their side of the case. If you mistakenly share information you shouldn’t or fail to share information you should, you could suffer financial and legal consequences.

The Next Stage: Mediation or Trial?

Most personal injury lawsuits are settled in mediation.

At a mediation hearing, you and the opposing side will, through a mediator, attempt to resolve your complaint before going through the trouble and expense of a trial. The mediator is a neutral party who will weigh the evidence and recommend to the parties some sort of compromise. If you cannot come to agreement, you might then proceed to trial.

An intense mediation meeting with attorneys and clients.
Note: In addition to scheduled mediations, settlement negotiations can happen at any time, all the way up to and during the trial.

Taking Your Case to Trial

If you want to take your case to trial without an attorney, you’ll have to carefully handle everything yourself, from jury selection to opening statements to closing arguments. You’ll have to cross-examine witnesses and conduct all facets of the trial while staying in the court’s good graces – knowing when and how to do things like object or request a continuation.

As I mentioned earlier, the court and judge are not present to educate or advise you. If you choose to self-represent, you’ll be expected to know what you’re doing. If the defendant has a lawyer (and they almost certainly will, if an insurance company is involved), you can bet that they’ll be ready to pounce on any mistake. If you’ve managed to get this far, this is the most critical part of your case.

NOTE: If you or the defendant appeal the verdict of your case, it could proceed to higher courts, including levels where a lawyer who is admitted to practice before that court is required.

What Could Go Wrong

Obviously, a lot can go wrong at these stages. The biggest mistake in mediation is settling for too little. And if you proceed to trial, losing there can be a double whammy. Not only might you not get any compensation for your injury, you may be on the hook for the defendant’s legal fees. The insurance company’s attorneys are unlikely to go easy on you.

Am I Required to Hire an Attorney to File a Lawsuit in South Carolina?

No, South Carolina law generally does not require you to hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit. However, an attorney is advisable in most personal injury lawsuits. South Carolina law has many pitfalls that can trap the unwary and strand them with no relief. An insurance company is likely to be delighted to hear someone is self-representing.

A judge banging her gavel in a courtroom.
You don’t have to go it alone; in most cases, I’d tell you not to. Yes, if you suffer injuries, the at-fault party should pay compensation. Yes, the liable insurance adjuster should give you a fair offer that covers your medical bills, lost wages, and other harms and losses after an accident.

But that’s just not always how it works.

Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin

If you’re considering filing a lawsuit, consult an attorney. My firm offers a free case evaluation with no obligation to hire us afterwards.

Our firm has more than 60 attorneys – including a team dedicated to litigation – and the resources to fight for you. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we advance all the costs of building your case and you don’t pay us an attorney’s fee at all unless we get compensation for you. Guaranteed.2

That guarantee, combined with our You-First Policy, often gives clients peace of mind.

We recovered more than $185 million in total compensation for more than 5,000 people in 2022 alone. Since 1997, we’ve recovered more than $1.6 billion in gross compensation for more than 60,000 people. And counting.1

Call us now at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online. We’ll be in touch shortly.


Frequently Asked Questions

How many personal injury cases go to trial?

Not many, really. Trials are expensive and can take a long time. Most plaintiffs want as much compensation as possible as quickly as possible, and defendants – especially insurance companies – will weigh the costs of the trial and possible jury verdict against making a potential settlement offer. It can be in everyone’s best interests to settle before a case goes to trial.

Why do you need a personal injury lawyer?

Most people think of “the law” as being engraved in stone – unchanging. The truth is that it is always changing, and there are literally thousands and thousands of pages of statutory and case law that might impact a given case. You want an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows how to find facts, evidence, and legal research that can keep your case on track.

Plus, a lawyer handles all the details, the phone calls with the insurance company, evidence gathering, and much more. At James Scott Farrin, we assume the legal stress so you can focus on your health and family.

Should I file a personal injury claim?

If you’ve suffered injuries due to someone else’s fault or negligence, absolutely file a claim. Instead of seeking money directly from the at-fault person, you’re seeking it from the insurance company (which is their purpose). For help with your claim or if the insurance company isn’t being fair, call an attorney.

About the Author

Thomas J. Godfrey is a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. He uses his ability to process massive amounts of information to help clients build cases and seek maximum compensation from insurance companies. Originally from England, Thomas found his calling here. He brings a strong sense of team and relishes the opportunity to help clients move forward from bad situations.