South Dakota Car Accident Laws and Resources
From Sioux Falls to Rapid City to Brookings, there are plenty of places to drive and explore in South Dakota. You can see the lovely Black Hills and Badlands as well as the grasslands near the Missouri River. These scenic roads are used by 600,000 licensed drivers who average 11,000 miles per year. During all of that driving, they are involved in many accidents. If you are planning to drive or live in the Mount Rushmore State, it is important to understand the rules and regulations here, in case you are in an accident.
Statistics in South Dakota
South Dakota in recent years has had the nation’s fourth lowest car accident fatality rate. The National Safety Council stated in 2016 that the number of car accident deaths in the US was 40,200, which was a 6% increase. But the traffic deaths in South Dakota were only 116, which was a decrease of 13% from the year before.
At the same time, the fatality rate in the state from 2014 to 2016 was the third lowest, dropping by 15% in that period. The director of the state Office of Highway Safety stated that these numbers are highly encouraging when other states are seeing an increase.
State officials think the decrease in fatalities is because of more cooperative efforts by safety groups, the police and the public. These organizations are encouraging people to use seatbelts, go the speed limit and never drink and drive.
However, some experts say there is still work to be done in the state. In South Dakota, you can drive 80 MPH without wearing a seatbelt on the interstate, and can also text and drive and not worry about being pulled over. The reason for this is the seatbelt and texting laws are still secondary offenses. This means officers must have another reason to pull you over.
Texting and driving in particular is a national scourge, and South Dakota is trying to crack down on the problem. The state is spending $1 million per year to increase use of seatbelts and discourage distracted driving. But generally, legislators are slow to adopt new laws or to empower the police to better enforce the laws. Some say the reluctance of lawmakers in the state to pass more highway safety laws is due to the disdain for government oversight in South Dakota. South Dakota was one of the last states to have a mandatory seatbelt law, and it is still second to last in the country for seatbelt use.
South Dakota Negligence Laws
Determining who is responsible for a car accident in South Dakota is critical to determine if you are entitled to compensation. The state is the only one in the US currently that uses the Slight/Gross Negligence Comparative Fault rule. This is a modification of the pure comparative fault rule.
Comparative fault refers to how much each person contributed to the accident that caused injuries. It will reduce the amount of damages you can collect by percentage that the injured person caused the accident. In a pure comparative fault system, the injured person can collect damages even if they mostly are responsible for the accident. If the injured person is 60% at fault, he would have his award reduced by 60%.
In this state, injured parties may collect damages if their negligence was slight, and that of the other person’s was gross. This means you can collect damages if you were only slightly at fault for the car accident. So, if the driver runs a stop sign and hits a jaywalker, the damages the jaywalker can get will be reduced; he did not use the crosswalk.
The injured person in this case is partly at fault, so courts will reduce damages by a percentage that relates to the plaintiff’s level of fault. This rule can be challenging to litigate; the assignment of slight or gross negligence involves a lot of complexity. That is why it is important to have a good attorney representing you in a car accident, especially one where fault is not clear cut and substantial injuries are involved.
South Dakota Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in this state is three years. For injury to personal property, the statute of limitations is six years. If you have a loved one killed in an accident, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death lawsuit is three years. This means you must file the suit within three years of the death of the person.
Auto Insurance Requirements for South Dakota
If you drive in this state, you are required to have a minimum level of car insurance. The minimum coverage required here is:
- $25,000 in bodily injury for each person in each accident
- $50,000 in bodily injury for every person in each accident
- $25,000 for property damage liability
- $25,000 and $50,000 uninsured motorist coverage
You are not required to carry additional coverage including comprehensive and collision.
Other South Dakota Driving Laws
As of 2014, a South Dakota Senate committee passed a bill that would ban texting and driving. It would have a $100 fine for a violation. However, many cities and towns in South Dakota already have a ban on texting and driving. South Dakota law also requires drivers to call police for any accidents with injuries or property damage above $1000.
South Dakota Accident Resources
Have you been in a car accident in South Dakota? It is always a stressful time when you are in a serious accident involving death or serious injury. Please use the below resources to help you get back on your feet after the accident.
- Do you want to file a lawsuit against the responsible driver? It is important to get an idea what your case could be worth. Lawsuit Info Center can help.
- You are required to report any accident that caused injury or death, or property damage above $1000.
- If you need to get a copy of an accident report, you can do so on this page of the state government website.
- If you need to report a car accident, you should use this form that is on file with the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.