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South Dakota Auto Accident Laws

South Dakota Auto Accident Laws and Resources

Whether you live in the state of South Dakota or are driving through, you probably want to avoid getting into a car crash. Unfortunately, car accidents happen. Defensive driving, following the rules of the road, and not driving recklessly are all good ways to avoid accidents yourself. But if you find yourself in a car crash, it may be helpful to know some of the South Dakota auto accident laws.

We’re here to help you know what to do after an accident, how fault is determined after a crash, and more. If you have questions or need to talk to someone about your South Dakota car accident, Lawsuit Info Center can help.

South Dakota Is A Fault Auto Accident State

South Dakota follows a ‘fault’ based system when it comes to deciding who pays for accident injuries and damages. This means the driver who was at fault for the auto accident is responsible for paying for any damages and injuries that stem from the incident.

In South Dakota, someone who has injuries or damages after a car accident can proceed in these ways:

  • Filing an insurance claim with their own insurance company, assuming that the losses are covered under the policy.
  • Submit a third-party insurance claim with the liable driver’s auto insurance provider, or
  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the liable driver.

Sometimes drivers may decide to file the claim with their own insurance company. This may be the case even if they are not at fault for the accident. The law allows you to fix your vehicle and get injuries treated faster in some situations.

However, if the other driver caused the accident, your insurance company can seek compensation from the other insurance company.

This state does not have a no-fault system. Basically, you can file a claim with your own insurance company regardless of who caused the accident.

Auto Insurance Requirements In South Dakota

You must have auto insurance in South Dakota. The minimum coverage amounts are:

  • $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury or death of a single person per accident
  • Liability coverage of $50,000 for bodily injury or death per accident
  • $25,000 in liability coverage for property damages per accident

Liability coverage covers the medical bills and auto damage bills. They also cover other costs for those injured or had their car damaged. This is in the event that you caused the accident. It’s usually a good idea to carry more coverage because the minimum amounts may not be enough to pay for injuries and property damage in serious car accidents.

Once the coverage limits are reached, you are on the hook for paying for the accident. It’s especially prudent to have higher insurance limits if you have substantial assets that could be at risk if you cause a serious car accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Also note that you are required in South Dakota to carry uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage pays for your damages and injuries if you are injured by an uninsured driver. UM coverage is usually set at $100,000 per person and $300,000 injury coverage for each accident.

Note that it is illegal to drive without auto insurance in South Dakota and you can be punished by 30 days in jail and a $100 fine. Your driver’s license also will be suspended for 30 days and for as long as a year.

If you do not want to get auto insurance in this state, you can deposit $50,000 to the state treasurer so you can have a certificate of insurance. You also have the option of filing a surety bond in the state to the DMV; it should be at least equal to the minimum insurance policy for any accident you caused.

Or, if you have more than 26 vehicles registered to your name, you can be a self-insurer.

Car Accident Liability In South Dakota

Let’s say you are hurt in a South Dakota car accident and you file a lawsuit. After hearing your evidence, the jury decides the other driver is liable, but you also are partially responsible. What happens next?

According to state law, the fact that you may have been ‘slightly liable’ for the accident, should not bar you from recovering for your damages and injuries. But your award or settlement will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of your negligence.

This means you can get compensation from the liable driver if the jury says you are just ‘slightly’ responsible for the accident. But the compensation you receive will be reduced by your percentage of the blame.
 

Comparative Negligence

This is the only state that follows this unusual variation of comparative negligence. Unfortunately, there is no exact definition of what ‘slight’ means. Essentially, the jury will decide what that means based on the facts of the case.

For example, say you are in an accident where you were rear ended by a driver who was speeding and distracted with a cell phone. You suffered $10,000 in damages and injuries. But your right turn signal didn’t work so the driver behind you didn’t know you were making a right turn. A South Dakota jury may decide that you are ‘slightly’ to blame for the accident and could reduce your compensation by $1000 or $2000.

It is important to have an experienced and skilled attorney working for you after a South Dakota car accident, especially when fault is in question. The other driver’s insurance company will be working to pin as much blame as possible on you for the car accident.

Your attorney can fight for your rights and ensure that you are not blamed for the accident any more than you should be. The issue is if they are able to blame you for more than a ‘slight’ amount of fault, you could lose the right to be compensated for your injuries.

Reporting An Auto Accident In South Dakota

State law says that the driver of any vehicle in an accident must report the accident as quickly as possible if: anyone was injured, a person dies, or if the damages were $1000 or more It is not necessary to file a police report if your accident does not meet these criteria, but it’s still a good idea.

The best policy after a South Dakota car accident is to wait until the police arrive to file a police report. If the police do not show up, you should provide your contact information to the other driver and then go to the nearest police station to report the incident.

Even if the accident was relatively minor, it’s wise to file a police report so there is a record of it in case the other driver goes to the police later and says you fled the scene. If you need to get a copy of an accident report, you can do so on this page of the state government website.

No Dram Shop Law In South Dakota

In the past in South Dakota, it was possible in limited circumstances for an injured party to obtain compensation from a social host or business. This applies if those entities offered alcohol to a drunk person who caused the injuries and damages. But this state now has a law that does not allow Dram Shop lawsuits.

The state legislature determined that the person who consumed the beverages is the person who should be blamed for the accident damages and injuries, not the person or entity that provided the beverages.

For example, a customer who is visibly intoxicated is continually served beer in a restaurant, is in a car accident and hurts someone. The injured party cannot sue the restaurant for providing alcohol to the person.

However, the injured party can still sue the drunk driver who caused their injuries.

South Dakota Auto Accident Laws: Statute Of Limitations

In South Dakota, the law states that you have three years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against another party. Also, if anyone dies in the accident, you have three years from the date of the person’s death to file suit.

People who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in South Dakota include the surviving spouse, surviving children, surviving parents, and rightful heirs. Note that those entitled to a payout in the wrongful death lawsuit may not be the ones who can file the case. In this state, only the personal representative of the estate can file the wrongful death lawsuit.

If you have a vehicle or other property damaged in a car accident, you have six years from the date of the accident in South Dakota to file a claim. Note that the statute of limitations does not apply to filing a car accident claim. You should file your claim promptly but there is no time limit to do so.

However, it is important to file your personal injury lawsuit as soon as you can after a car accident. Unfortunately, waiting until just before the statute of limitations expires often means that the best car accident attorneys won’t take your case.

Personal Injury Claims Against Government Workers In South Dakota

If your car accident involves a government worker who was working at the time of the incident, you have only one year from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. This makes it even more important for you to have your case reviewed by a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as you can.

Pain And Suffering Damages In South Dakota

Damages from an auto accident can divide into two different parts: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are things such as medical costs, lost wages, and property damages. Noneconomic damages refer to pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium, as well as:

  • Physical impairment
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Emotional pain
  • Loss of services and companionship

Note that you do not receive compensation for pain and suffering in auto insurance claims. You only can receive this type of compensation if you file a personal injury lawsuit in South Dakota.

Get Legal Help With South Dakota Auto Accident Laws

If you are in a car crash, it is highly upsetting and stressful. But you will be more prepared after digesting all the information on this page about South Dakota auto accident laws.

Ultimately, if you are in a South Dakota car accident, stay at the crash scene until law enforcement arrives. Always seek medical attention immediately. You also should get in touch with your auto insurance company as soon as possible. Hire an attorney unless it is a minor accident without injuries.

If you do get in a crash in South Dakota, Lawsuit Info Center can help you find a skilled attorney in your area. You may be eligible for compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost earnings. Please use this website to locate a personal injury attorney to help you with your claim or lawsuit.

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