South Dakota Negligence Laws
Probably the most important question in any negligence case is whether someone breached their duty of care to another person and caused that other person injuries as a result.
Most of the time, fault is the basis for legal liability and a jury must find that a defendant is at fault for damages to be awarded to the injured person. One of the most common reasons for holding a defendant liable is that the defendant's negligence caused the harm.
Continue reading for an overview of negligence laws in South Dakota.
Overview of Negligence Laws
There are different laws for negligence from state to state. Most allow a plaintiff to recover damages from a defendant so long as their own fault is at or below 50%, and damage awards are reduced according to the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff. This is known as “comparative negligence."
A few states, however, prevent a plaintiff from recovering anything if they are in any way at fault. This is called “contributory negligence," and it can completely defeat a plaintiff's lawsuit. Small variations are common depending on the applicable law. However, for the most part, the laws are similar wherever you are. South Dakota is noteworthy because it has its own unique standard.
South Dakota Negligence Laws
South Dakota permits a plaintiff to recover damages so long as their fault was “slight." Flipping this around, a defendant's fault must be “gross" (or great) for a defendant to be liable for a plaintiff's injuries. Lawyers call this “slight-gross negligence," and it can limit a plaintiff's ability to recover.
So long as a plaintiff is only slightly at fault, they can receive damages reduced in accordance with the degree of fault. If that fault is determined to be more than “slight," however, recovery can be completely barred.
Whether a plaintiff is found to be more than slightly at fault hinges upon the specifics of any given case. As such, it's important to consult with a personal injury lawyer knowledgeable on South Dakota law. They will be able to help you navigate the ins and outs of negligence claims, including determinations of fault.
|Comparative Negligence||Yes, but plaintiff's negligence must be “slight."|
|Contributory Negligence Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery||Yes, plaintiff's negligence proportionately diminishes the amount they may recover. However, if it's more than “slight," then recovery is completed barred.|
|Contribution Among Tortfeasors||Yes (see 15-8-11 thru 15-8-20) but only if the defendant paid the entire amount owed to the plaintiff or more than his/her pro rata share of fault. Any defendant who is found to be less than fifty percent at fault for plaintiff's injuries may not be jointly liable for more than twice of his/her percentage of fault allocated to that defendant.|
|Uniform Act||Yes, South Dakota has adopted the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act. 15-8-11, et seq.|
Note: State negligence laws are always subject to change, usually through legislation, ballot initiative, or court ruling. Contact a South Dakota personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
Consider reviewing the following resources for more information about laws in South Dakota, including those related to negligence:
- At South Dakota laws, you'll find resources on all statutes in the state, including those related to negligence.
- At Official State Codes, you'll find links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Negligence Laws: Related Resources
Consider reviewing the following resources, as well, for more information about negligence:
Filing a South Dakota Negligence Claim? Get Professional Legal Help
Many different types of cases can involve negligence as a basis for liability, such as those involving personal injury or property damage, among others. If you're considering whether to file a negligence lawsuit in South Dakota, it's important to speak with a legal professional who will know the relevant laws and procedures. Get started today by contacting a South Dakota injury attorney near you.
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