South Dakota Car Accident Laws

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If you’re involved in a car accident in South Dakota, you’ll want to make sure that everybody’s okay, then exchange information with the other driver. If the accident was serious or resulted in injury or death, state law requires that you notify the South Dakota police department. 
Whether it’s a minor fender-bender or a major accident, car accidents can be scary experiences. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the aftermath of an accident—so it’s a great idea to learn what to do beforehand.
Jerry, the car insurance comparison app, is here to cover all the essentials. We’ll tackle accident reporting, insurance requirements, and how the state of South Dakota determines who’s at fault in an accident. That way, you’re ready for anything and prepared to get a full recovery if you’re injured in a crash. Plus, we'll offer a few tips to help you find the best rates on South Dakota car insurance.
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What to do after a crash: South Dakota car accident reporting laws

After an accident, you should make sure you and your passengers are safe. If anybody is hurt, call 911, and they’ll send a team your way to help you out.
Next, you’ll need to carefully move your car to the side of the road to ease the flow of traffic. If you’re still feeling a bit shaken up after the accident, wait until help arrives—an officer will be happy to move your car for you.
Then, it’s time to document damage and exchange information. Later down the line, when insurance companies are determining whose fault the accident was, this info will be crucial. Take pictures and videos of harm to your vehicle and write down notes about the collision—date, time, weather conditions, that sort of thing. Be sure to get this type of information from the other driver(s) in the accident:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Insurance information
Remember, it’s never a bad idea to report an accident to the police—but you don’t always have to! Let’s take a closer look at some instances when you should definitely notify the police after a collision.

When to report an accident to the police

Under South Dakota motor vehicle code § 32-34-7, you’re legally required to report an accident to the police if:
  • A person was injured or killed in the accident
  • Anyone sustained $1,000 or more of property damage
  • The total property damage was $2,000 or more
  • You hit a parked vehicle and can’t notify the owner
  • You damaged someone’s property and you don’t know how to let them know 
So, if you were involved in a minor accident with no visible damage, you won’t have to call the police (as long as the other driver agrees!). If there was significant damage, though, you need to let the authorities know, or else you’ll be charged with a class two misdemeanor, resulting in:
  • Fines of up to $500
  • Jail time of up to a month

When to report an accident to the DMV

In South Dakota, you don’t need to report an accident to the DMV. You can, however, request an accident report from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety (SDDPS). 

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: South Dakota’s insurance laws

Before you can hit the road in South Dakota, you’ll need to demonstrate financial responsibility. The easiest way to do that is to buy some car insurance! South Dakota’s minimum coverage requirements are pretty extensive:
It might seem like these requirements are pretty steep, but these coverages are super useful! For example, the Insurance Information Institute estimates that almost 8% of South Dakota drivers are uninsured—so uninsured motorist coverage can give you peace of mind on the streets.
Make sure that you lock down these coverages (Jerry, the trustworthy comparison and broker app, can help!) before you get behind the wheel. Otherwise, you risk running into several punishments: 
  • Fines ranging from $100 to $500
  • Possible suspension of your registration, driver’s license, and plates
  • Reinstatement fees between $50 and $200
  • Possible jail time of up to 30 days
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Claiming damages after an accident: South Dakota’s personal injury laws

If an accident was severe enough, you might benefit from tacking a personal injury lawsuit onto your insurance claim. To guarantee that you get the full recovery that you deserve, you should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer who can give you the inside scoop on South Dakota’s legal system. 
For now, though, we can cover the basics. Like most states, South Dakota allows you to recover two types of damages:
  • Economic damages: medical expenses, loss of income, loss of business opportunities, loss of use of property, burial costs, and more
  • Non-economic damages: Pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, emotional distress, humiliation, and more
But you don’t have all the time in the world to file a claim! South Dakota’s personal injury laws also include a statute of limitations:
  • For most personal injury lawsuits, you have three years to file a claim
  • For personal injury lawsuits against government entities, you only have one year to file a claim
Since the clock starts ticking right when your injury occurs, it’s important to decide whether you want to file a lawsuit as soon as you can.

Who’s to blame: South Dakota’s comparative negligence law

South Dakota is the only state in America that follows the doctrine of slight/gross comparative negligence. This is a bit tricky, but we’ll do our best to demystify it.
In a nutshell, a driver can only recover damages if their fault in the accident was “slight.” There’s not a lot of legal precedents to go off of here, but the 1997 case Wood v. City of Crooks determined that 30% of the fault is more than “slight.”
Let’s try a couple of examples. If you’re sitting on the side of the road, parked legally, and another car rear-ends you, you should be able to recover damages. A jury is likely to find that your contribution to the accident was “slight” (in this case, probably 0%!), and the other driver’s contribution was “gross,” or extreme.
If, on the other hand, you’re parked illegally on the side of the road—maybe you’re parked a few feet from the curb—and another driver dings the corner of your car, you probably won’t be able to recover damages. A jury would most likely find that you’re partially at fault for parking illegally, so you’ll have to pay for damages yourself.
Remember, this doctrine changes across state borders! In most states, you can recover if you were 50% or less at fault. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the car accident laws of whichever state you’re visiting, be it North Dakota, Colorado, or Montana

How to save money on car insurance in South Dakota

Whether you’re in a minor car fender-bender or a serious pileup, you’ll probably notice that your car insurance goes up substantially after an accident. We know how frustrating that can be—which is part of why we built Jerry, our insurance shopping super app.
Jerry is your best friend when it comes to finding cheap car insurance. It only takes 45 seconds to sign up, then we’ll get you the best prices on the market! Even if you have a few accidents on your record, our team will be happy to help you switch to a more affordable policy.
After you’ve chosen your favorite quote with Jerry, a celebration is in order: you just joined Jerry’s team of over 2 million customers who save an average of more than $800 on car insurance each year!
“Amazing! I’ll admit, I’m young with 2 accidents. This spiked my insurance rates and every quote I found. Jerry, though, helped me find affordable insurance. It truly helped me!” —Marcus F.
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