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How does car accident liability work in South Dakota?

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents can be highly stressful and challenging experiences, especially when it comes to determining liability and seeking compensation for damages. Understanding how liability works is crucial if you’ve been involved in a car accident. 

Keep scrolling to delve into the intricacies of car accident liability in South Dakota; the following tips can help you navigate this often complex legal landscape.

Understanding fault in South Dakota

In South Dakota, car accident liability is primarily determined based on fault. This means that the party responsible for causing the accident is typically held liable for the resulting damages.

This is because South Dakota follows a modified comparative negligence rule. However, a plaintiff can only recover damages if they are blameless for the wreck or if their fault was slight and the defendant’s fault was gross. This is called the slight-gross negligence and can limit the compensation you may recover in a motor vehicle accident claim. 

Negligence and contributory factors

When determining liability in a car accident case, it’s essential to establish negligence by the at-fault party. Negligence refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care, thereby causing harm to another person. 

For instance, if the at-fault driver violated traffic laws leading up to the accident, such as running a red light or failing to yield the right of way, it can significantly strengthen your case. Violations of traffic laws demonstrate a clear disregard for the safety of others on the road and are acts of negligence.

Aside from traffic law violations, distracted driving has also become a significant cause of car accidents in recent years. If the at-fault driver was distracted by texting, talking on the phone or engaging in any other activity that took their attention away from the road, it could establish negligence.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and reckless driving can also cause accidents. Reckless driving encompasses behavior such as: 

  • Aggressive driving 
  • Excessive speeding 
  • Erratic lane changes 

Car accident liability in South Dakota is primarily determined based on fault. However, the state’s slight-gross negligence rule also plays a significant role in determining compensation, which is why it’s wise to have experienced legal guidance.