South Dakota's Mount Rushmore, Black Hills, and Badlands provide plenty of reason to hit the open roads. One downside of such stunning countryside is that eventually someone is bound to be craning their neck to view the scenery and cause an accident. If you are involved in a car accident in South Dakota you'll want to know whether you need to file a report, how to handle insurers, and how long you have to file a court case. The following article addresses these and other issues relating to the South Dakota car accident settlement process and timeline.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in South Dakota?
South Dakota Laws, Section 32-34-3.7 requires that the driver involved in an accident involving bodily injury, death, or damage of the apparent extent of $1,000 to a single person's property, or $2,000 per accident provide notice of the accident to the nearest available law enforcement officer.
South Dakota Car Insurance Laws
Drivers are required to maintain proof of their financial responsibility. Although there are some limited exceptions to the requirement, in nearly all cases this amounts to maintaining auto insurance policies that meet the statutory minimum requirements as set out by South Dakota Laws, Section 32-35-2. The law requires:
- at least $25,000 for bodily injury or death to one person in one accident;
- at least $50,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more people in any one accident;
- $25,000 for injury or destruction of another's property in any one accident.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in South Dakota?
The car accident settlement process may vary, but in most circumstances the process begins when you file a claim with an insurance company. The company's insurance claims adjuster reviews your claim and conducts an investigation into the incident and reviews the evidence you submit. When this process is complete the insurer may make a settlement offer. If you don't feel the offer is fair you can submit a counteroffer and include any additional evidence or arguments that support your position.
There may be several rounds of negotiation before an agreement can be reached. If you accept a settlement offer you will sign documents that prevent you from subsequently suing the company. On the other hand, if no agreement can be reached you may need to file a case in civil court and litigate your claim in the court system.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in South Dakota?
An average settlement amount is very difficult to produce. You can use a damages worksheet to total the costs relating to injuries, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic impacts resulting from the accident. However, without an individualized assessment it is still difficult to factor in the other aspects of your situation that may impact your recovery. A review by an attorney may produce a more helpful estimate than can be provided on this forum.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in South Dakota?
States limit the amount of time during which a lawsuit can be filed. If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit you lose the ability to bring your claim to court altogether and lose nearly all of your leverage to negotiate with insurers. South Dakota Laws, Section 15-2-14 requires that actions for personal injury be taken within three years of the incident that created the cause of action.
Get Legal Help With South Dakota's Car Accident Settlement Process
After a car accident you'll want to spend your time putting your health and property back in order, not dealing with state agencies and insurers. A lawyer's assistance can help you get back on the road with a minimum of hassle. Contact an experienced South Dakota accident attorney to learn how they can help you get fairly compensated.