Search by State

Accident Attorneys In South Dakota

Narrow Your Search By Selecting A Market

Beardsley Jensen & Lee

4200 Beach Dr
Suite 3
Rapid City, South Dakota 57702


Visit My Website

Use the listing(s) above to find the right South Dakota accident attorney for you
or contact us today and we'll connect you with someone that can help.

South Dakota Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

South Dakota’s 150 or so traffic deaths per year put it near the top of the danger list for U.S. states, at least on a per-capita basis. The state’s traffic safety rules, personal injury law and wrongful death statute govern road accident lawsuits in the state. Below are some of the key features of this legal regime.

Statute of Limitations: South Dakota allows injured victims three years from the date of an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. A six-year limitation period applies to property damage claims. The estate representative of a deceased victim has three years from the date of the victim’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

When the Victim is Partly at Fault: South Dakota’s legal standard for shared fault is unique – the plaintiff will be denied damages for anything more than “slight negligence”, even if the accident was mostly the defendant’s fault.

Fault/No Fault Rule: Since South Dakota is a “fault” auto insurance state, a victim can look to the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy for compensation, rather than to his own insurance policy.

Minimum Insurance Coverage: In South Dakota, auto liability insurance policies must cover no less than $25,000 per injured victim, $50,000 per injury accident, and $25,000 for property damage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: South Dakota drivers must carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $25,000 per injured victim and $50,000 per accident.

Types of Damages Available: Full compensatory damages are available, but non-economic damages (such as emotional distress) are limited to $500,000 in medical malpractice cases. Punitive damages are available for personal injury but not wrongful death claims, and the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s outrageous conduct by “clear and convincing evidence”.

Product Liability for Defective Vehicles: No-fault product liability is available, subject to a defense of alteration or modification of the product.

Suing the Government over Defective Roadways (Sovereign Immunity): Lawsuits for money damages against the South Carolina government or its political subdivisions are permitted.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: All riders under 18 must wear helmets.

Seat Belt Laws: All occupants 18 or older must wear seat belts while sitting in a front seat. The maximum fine for a first offense is $25. The offense is secondary, meaning that the officer must pull you over for a separate infraction before he can cite you for not wearing a seat belt.

Dram Shop Law: Licensed alcohol vendors and social hosts cannot be sued by third parties if the person they serve injures the third party due to intoxication. South Dakota is one of the few states in the U.S. with no “dram shop law”.

DUI/DWI Penalties (first offense): Jail time of up to one year is possible for a first-offense DUI. A fine of $1,000 can be imposed, and the offender’s driver’s license can be suspended for up to one year.

Penalty for Refusing a Sobriety Test: A one-year driver’s license suspension applies to DUI suspects who refuse to submit to a breath, blood or urine test to determine their level of intoxication. A DUI prosecution can proceed even without these test results.

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): Texting while driving is completely banned in South Dakota, while the use of cell phones (even “no-hands” versions) is banned for drivers on Learner’s or Intermediate driver’s licenses.