South Dakota Negligence Laws

Probably the most important question in any case whether someone is at fault for an injury – whether a physical injury, a loss of property, or some other harm. Most of the time, fault is the basis for legal liability and a jury must find that a defendant is at fault for damages to be awarded. One of the most common reasons for holding a defendant liable is that the defendant’s negligence caused the harm.

Overview of Negligence Laws

There are different laws for negligence from state to state. Most allow a plaintiff to recover damages from a defendant so long as his or her own fault is at or below 50% – and damage awards are reduced accordingly. This is known as “comparative negligence.” A few states prevent a plaintiff from recovering anything if he or she is in any way at fault. This is called “contributory negligence,” and can completely defeat a plaintiff’s lawsuit. Small variations are common depending on the applicable law, but for the most part the laws are similar wherever you are. South Dakota is noteworthy because it has its own unique standard.

South Dakota Negligence Laws

South Dakota permits a plaintiff to recover damages so long as his or her fault was “slight.” Flipping this around, a defendant’s fault must be “gross” (or great) to liable for a plaintiff’s injuries. Lawyers call this “slight-gross negligence,” and it can limit a plaintiff’s ability to recover. So long as a plaintiff is only slightly at fault, he or she can receive damages reduced in accordance with the degree of fault. If that fault is determined to be more than “slight,” however, recovery can be completely barred.

Code Section 20-9-2.
Comparative Negligence Yes, but plaintiff’s negligence must be “slight.”
Contributory Negligence Limit to Plaintiff’s Recovery Yes, plaintiff’s negligence proportionately diminishes recovery, but if more than “slight” then recovery is completed barred. 20-9-2.
Contribution Among Tortfeasors Yes, 15-8-11, et seq.
Uniform Act Yes, South Dakota has adopted the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act. 15-8-11, et seq.

Related Resources on Negligence Laws

Many different types of cases can allege negligence as a basis for liability – personal injury cases, property damage cases, financial cases, and more. If you’re considering whether to file a lawsuit in South Dakota, we recommend speaking with a local attorney.

Looking Forward: Get a Free Case Review

Many different types of cases can involve negligence as a basis for liability, such as those involving personal injury or property damage, among others. If you’re considering whether to file a negligence lawsuit in South Dakota, it's important to speak with a South Dakota personal injury attorney who will know the laws in South Dakota, including any deadlines you may have to file a lawsuit. Contact an attorney today to get a free review of your case.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.