South Dakota Car Accident Compensation Laws

From Badlands National Park to Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota has a lot to offer both the history buff and the outdoorsman. And if you're a motorcycle enthusiast, you may have already visited Sturgis, South Dakota, home to one of the largest annual motorcycle events in the world. Whether you prefer to visit these attractions by car or by motorcycle, you'll need to know about South Dakota's car accident compensation laws if you've been involved in a car accident in this state.

Below is a table summarizing key sections of South Dakota's car accident compensation laws, followed by explanations of important aspects of the laws.

Statute of Limitations

3 years for personal injury (Sec. 15-2-14(3)); 6 years for property damage (Sec. 15-2-13(4)); 1 year for claims against the state (Sec. 21-32-2); 180 days to give notice of claim against a public entity (Sec. 3-21-2)

Limits on Damages $500,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases (Sec. 21-3-11)
Other Limits Slight/gross negligence rules prohibit recovery for anything other than slight negligence; comparative negligence rule reduces damages for contributory negligence (Sec. 20-9-2)

Economic vs. Non-economic Damages

Usually, there are two types of damages to consider after you've been in a car accident: economic and non-economic. While economic damages are the objective losses you've incurred as a result of your injury or damage to property, non-economic damages refer to the more subjective costs of an accident, like emotional distress and the loss of spousal companionship.

Economic damages typically include:

  • Car repairs or replacement
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages

Non-economic damages can include:

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of affection or companionship

"Comparative Negligence" Rules in South Dakota

Like many states, South Dakota is an "at fault" state, which means you must prove that the other driver was at fault for causing the accident in order to recover damages. However, fault in a car accident isn't always black and white, and you may still be compensated even if you were partly to blame for the accident. South Dakota is the only state that follows the "slight-gross negligence" rule, which states that you may recover damages as long as your negligence was slight in comparison with that of the other driver.

Additionally, according to the modified comparative negligence standard, any damages that are awarded will be reduced in proportion to the degree that you were at fault. For example, if you were 5% to blame and the other driver was 95% at fault, you may still file a lawsuit, but an award of $10,000 will be reduced by $500.

Limits on Damages

In South Dakota, there is no cap on most damages. However, non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $500,000. Additionally, all claims are time-sensitive and have deadlines for filing your lawsuit in court. These are known as "statutes of limitations." In South Dakota, you have three years to file most personal injury claims, and six years for most property damage claims.

Have a Car Accident Attorney Review Your Claim for Free

South Dakota's unique "slight/gross negligence" standard can lead to harsh results, as someone who is a little more than slightly responsible for the accident is completely barred from recovering any damages. Additionally, it is inherently difficult to define and quantify this standard. What qualifies as "slight" as opposed to "just barely more than slight?" Learn more and evaluate the strength of your claim by receiving a free claim evaluation from an experienced attorney.

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