South Dakota Car Accident Laws, Settlements & Lawsuits

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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Car accidents are an unfortunate fact of life. They happen every day and in every state in the U.S. Despite its small population, South Dakota has its share of accidents too: nearly 16,000 traffic accidents were reported in 2008. If you or someone you know has been in a car accident, and you need help, you’ve come to the right place. Of course, remember that if the accident just occurred, or if you or someone else is injured, the first step to take is to call 911 immediately. The information available on about how to assess your rights and responsibilities, and where to go for help after an accident, will be useful only after you’ve taken care of your immediate health concerns. Our car accident articles cover issues ranging from claims and fault data, to liability issues and the context behind structured settlements. You’ll also find rules, laws and other information specific to the state of South Dakota, as well as links to South Dakota personal injury attorneys who can evaluate your claim and provide advice on the best course of action for you.

South Dakota Car Accident Articles:

How an Auto Accident Insurance Claim Works
What is Your Car Accident Injury Claim Worth
Who is at Fault?
Car Insurance and Auto Accidents: Are You Covered?
What You Can Expect to Recover for Property Damage in Auto Accident Cases
Auto Accidents: Options if You’re at an Impasse with the Insurance Adjuster
Car Accidents Involving Government-Owned Vehicles and Government Workers
Structured Settlements
Do I Need to Contact an Attorney After a Car Accident

South Dakota Car Accident Lawyers:

Find an experienced South Dakota Car Accident Attorney at

Article: How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Special Rules for South Dakota Car Accidents:

South Dakota Fault: Pure Comparative Fault

South Dakota Car Insurance Requirements/Limits: Bodily Injury & Property Damage Liability. The minimum level required by law is:
$25,000 per person for bodily injury AND $25,000 for uninsured motorist coverage per person for bodily injury
$50,000 per accident for bodily injury AND $50,000 for uninsured motorist coverage per accident for bodily injury
$25,000 per accident for property
Proof of this liability insurance must be kept available in the vehicle at all times, including when registering a vehicle, renewing license plates, or anytime a police officer or the Department of Revenue asks you to show proof of insurance.

South Dakota Small Claims Limits: $12,000 [recently up from $8,000]

South Dakota Personal Injury Statute of Limitations: 3 years

South Dakota Auto Accidents Involving Government Vehicles: In most cases, government entities receive protection from private lawsuits under a legal doctrine known as “government immunity” or “sovereign immunity.” This doctrine doesn’t necessarily provide complete protection for the government, however. In fact, it may just impose extra notice requirements on you before filing suit. For more information on this type of government protection, follow this link to the article on vehicle accident claims against government entities. Keep in mind that, depending on which government entity, there are frequently special requirements for how long you have to notify them of your claim. See below for some South Dakota specific details: 

Requirements for Filing Against Government Entities:

1) For filing against the Federal Government: Use Standard Form 95 and follow the instructions on the back page. The form must be completed and submitted to the appropriate agency within two years after the claim accrues.

2) For filing against the State of South Dakota: For the purposes of the South Dakota accident reporting system, all accidents involving at least one motor vehicle  in which injuries or fatalities occur, and/or in which at least $1,000 of property damage appears to have occurred, must be reported to the Office of Accident Records by a qualified law enforcement official. To the extent that a law enforcement officer is not present, the driver involved in such an accident must give notice to the nearest law enforcement officer who has jurisdiction, immediately, by the quickest means of communication possible. The law enforcement officer then has a duty to investigate the traffic accident and affix a notice to the damaged vehicles indicating that the state investigation has begun.  Within three days of the end of the investigation, the Department of Public Safety must receive the completed investigation report of the accident.  As you can see, once an accident occurs, the Department of Public Safety gets involved very quickly and the investigations proceed quickly as well. In order to stay on top of things and ensure that you have gathered all necessary evidence as fast as possible, you should contact a qualified South Dakota car accident attorney.

3) For filing against a South Dakota county or municipality: The requirements vary with the entity, so you’ll have to contact the specific county or agencies involved. See South Dakota Personal Injury Venue below for more information on where and how to file a claim. See this directory for a list of state agencies in South Dakota.

In dealing with accidents involving government entities and workers, be aware that there are always special notices to be filed against the appropriate government unit responsible, whether in risk management, attorney general’s offices, or local agencies, and the time periods are limited in all cases (as little as 30-180 days). The rules can be confusing, so carefully check the forms linked above before you fill them out, and/or call the Department of Public Safety directly before filing your claim. Accident claims involving the government can be complicated. Any mistakes in filing or failing to file on time could result in losing your ability to recover for your damages and injuries. Consult an experienced attorney right away to preserve your rights. Also see Car Accidents Involving Government-Owned Vehicles and Government Workers.

South Dakota Personal Injury Venue (Where to File Your Lawsuit): In the municipal or justice court located where the defendant (the person you are suing) lives or does business. Alternatively, you might consider filing in a court located where the accident occurred. If you are filing a claim against a government agency and are unsure of which agency is responsible, the most prudent course is to file a separate claim against each agency, or contact a South Dakota auto accident attorney.  

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