How to File a Civil Suit in South Carolina

By Kayar Sprang

Civil suits are legal actions filed by plaintiffs alleging that the defendants committed a violation of the civil (public) law against them. The purpose of petitioning the court is to seek legal remedies or restitution, usually in the form of money. Civil suits are not criminal suits. You can file a civil suit in South Carolina with some legwork and knowledge.

File your civil suit in a South Carolina small claims court if the dollar limit you're seeking doesn't exceed $7,500. If your case is a landlord-tenant situation, there is no limit to the damages you're seeking. You don't need an attorney to file in small claims court. Go to your local county clerk's office in South Carolina. The clerk will give you a copy of the laws involving small claims court and the necessary paperwork. Fill-out the paperwork, return it to the clerk and pay the filing fee. Wait for an answer from the court. A court date will be set for you and the defendant to go before a magistrate.

File a complaint with the South Carolina office of the American Civil Liberties Union if your civil suit involves a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights (see Resources below). Whether-or-not the ACLU takes your case, you're still advised to contact an attorney on your own.

Find a licensed attorney immediately after the incident has taken place. South Carolina has a statute of limitations, or defined time periods during which you can file a civil suit. These time periods vary, depending on the alleged violation. Libel, slander and defamation cases have two-year limits. Personal injury, fraud, injury to personal property and product liability cases must be filed within three years from the date of the incident. Find an attorney in South Carolina by checking the Lawyer Referral Directory at the American Bar Association website (see Resources below).

Explain your side of the civil suit to your attorney. Present any evidence you have to support your claim. Examples include photographs, receipts, contracts, text messages pertaining to the case and printed e-mails and statements from witnesses. Your attorney may hire expert witnesses.

File a written complaint (through your attorney) at the local courthouse in South Carolina and pay the filing fees. The complaint is a statement telling your side of the incident, the name of the defendant, the reason you should be compensated and the damages you're seeking. Your attorney will determine whether your case would benefit from having a jury or not. However, according to the S.C. Code Ann. § 22-3-230, either party, the plaintiff or the defendant, may demand a jury trial.

About the Author

Kayar Sprang has been a professional freelance writer and researcher since 1999. She has had articles published by clients like Kraft Foods, "Woman's Day" magazine and Mom Junction. Sprang specializes in subjects she has expertise in, including gardening and home improvement. She lives on and maintains a multi-acre farm.