When can you file a lawsuit? It’s a simple question that can make or break a case. Every state places a time limit on bringing a civil lawsuit, and plaintiffs who don’t file in time risk having their cases thrown out. While for the most part these time limits are straightforward, you might be surprised how often they can prematurely end a lawsuit. Here’s a summary of South Dakota law.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
The time limit on bringing a lawsuit is known as the “statute of limitations.” State legislatures enacted statutes to create these time limits decades ago, hence the clunky name. The idea behind them is simple: a plaintiff who doesn’t file a lawsuit within the given period of time probably doesn’t have a strong case. Defendants also benefit from knowing when a lawsuit can arise, and court systems in general benefit from the reduction in cases involving stale claims. Essentially, it’s a legal tool for barring old disputes from rising up and letting parties rest easy once a given amount of time has elapsed.
Most states have different statute of limitations depending on the cause of action. For example, cases alleging fraud (which are harder to detect) may have a longer time period while cases involving personal injury (which most plaintiffs can’t miss) may have a shorter one. Court-made rules for pausing, or “tolling,” the statutes of limitations exist too. Tolling most often occurs when a prospective plaintiff doesn’t discover he or she has a cause of action or is otherwise unable to bring a case. A common example is the hospital patient who develops complications caused by medical error years after a surgery. Her statute of limitations period might begin (or “accrue”) once she discovers the source of the problem.
South Dakota Civil Statutes of Limitations
South Dakota’s standard statute of limitations period runs for six years. There are exceptions for different types of actions, however. The following table provides a quick summary:
|Injury to Person||3 yrs. 15-2-15(1)|
|Libel and Slander||2 yrs. 15-2-15(1)|
|Fraud||6 yrs. 15-2-13(6)|
|Injury to Personal Property||6 yrs. 15-2-13(4)|
|Professional Malpractice||Medical: 2 yrs. 15-2-14.1; Legal: 3 yrs. 15-2-14.2; CPA: 4 yrs. 15-2-14.4|
|Trespass to Real Estate||6 yrs. 15-2-13(3)|
|Collection of Rents||-|
|Contracts||6 yrs. 15-2-6; Oral: 15-2-13|
|Collection of Debt on Account||-|
|Court Judgments||20 yrs. Domestic judgments; 10 yrs. Foreign judgments. 15-2-6, 8|
Related Resources for Civil Statute of Limitations Laws
You can read more about statutes of limitations and civil court cases in general on these pages. If you are looking to file a lawsuit and are concerned about the statute of limitations period, speak to a local attorney.
Get Help With Your Civil Claim From a South Dakota Attorney
Whether you want to file a slip and fall claim or a medical malpractice case, a good South Dakota attorney will find the right cause of action that falls within South Dakota's applicable time limits, and that gets you the maximum compensation you're entitled to by law. If you have a personal injury matter that needs legal attention, you should contact a South Dakota injury attorney as soon as possible.
Contact a qualified attorney.