What to Do if You’re in a Car Accident Without Insurance but Not at Fault in South Dakota

You can still recover some damages if you get in an accident and don’t have insurance. But there will be consequences for driving without proper coverage.
Written by Julian de Sevilla
Reviewed by Jessa Claeys
If you’re in a car accident that isn’t your fault in South Dakota but you don’t have
car insurance
, you can still recover some or all of the damages. However, there will likely be legal consequences for driving without insurance.
Laws regarding car insurance, car accidents, and who is or isn’t at fault are confusing—especially since they vary from state to state. So, here’s everything you need to know when it comes to driving in South Dakota.

What to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance in South Dakota and not at fault

In the event of an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage,
South Dakota car accident laws
require that the driver stop immediately and give their name, address, and license plate number (and that of the owner of the car they’re driving, if it isn’t their own) to the driver or occupants of the vehicle they collided with. They must also render reasonable assistance to anyone injured. 
Failing to stop after an accident that resulted in injury or death is a felony.
The accident must be reported to the police if anyone is injured or if there’s at least $1,000 of damage to one person’s property or $2,000 of total damage. If the accident involves another person’s vehicle or property and that person isn’t present, the driver’s information must be left in a conspicuous spot on the vehicle or property and the accident must be reported to the police.
Failure to give the necessary information or report an accident when required is either a Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor depending on the type of accident. If the driver is physically incapable of reporting the accident, failing to report it isn’t illegal, but if there are other capable passengers in the car, they’re still required to report it.
Aside from checking for injuries, reporting the accident, and exchanging information with other parties, the best thing to do is stay calm and document the accident as accurately as possible—especially if it wasn’t your fault and you don’t have insurance. If this is the case, you should still be able to recover damages, either through a claim with the other driver’s insurance company or a lawsuit.
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Who determines fault in a car accident in South Dakota?

Insurance companies determine fault, or more accurately, whose negligence caused the accident. This relates directly to who can recover damages and the damages they can recover. The legal language regarding how this is determined in South Dakota is different than in other states, though.
In South Dakota, you can recover damages from the other person’s insurance company in an accident
if your negligence is considered “slight”
compared to the other person’s.
This is why it’s so important to document the accident thoroughly if you don’t have insurance—the other person’s insurance company is solely responsible for determining negligence. And if you don’t have car insurance, the other person’s insurance company might assume that it’s because you can’t afford it, which might also mean you can’t afford to dispute the issue in court.

Do you need to report a car accident in South Dakota?

Car accidents in South Dakota must be reported if anyone is injured or killed, if there is property damage of at least $1,000 to one party or total damage of at least $2,000, or if the person whose property is damaged isn’t present

What if you’re at fault?

Because of South Dakota’s slight/gross negligence law, you’ll be financially responsible for your portion of the other driver’s damages if you are deemed grossly negligent for the accident. If you don’t have insurance, the not-at-fault driver can file a lawsuit against you to recover these damages.

What if an uninsured driver hits you in South Dakota?

Drivers in South Dakota are required to carry a certain amount of
uninsured motorist coverage
to help them recover damages in an accident where the negligent driver doesn’t have insurance. If that doesn’t cover your damages, you can sue the other driver to try to recover more. 

Penalties for driving without insurance in South Dakota

Driving without insurance in South Dakota is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail, a $100 fine, or both. Your license will also be suspended for between one month and one year, and you’ll have to file an
SR-22 form
with the state for three years once your license is reinstated.
Aside from this, driving without insurance is tremendously risky because it places all financial burdens on you if you’re found negligent in an accident. Car repairs and medical bills can quickly get expensive, especially in a serious accident. Car insurance isn’t cheap either, but it’s certainly cheaper than the alternative.
MORE: South Dakota electric vehicle incentives

Minimum car insurance requirements in South Dakota

South Dakota’s car insurance laws require drivers to carry:
  • $25,000 in
    bodily injury liability
    per person
  • $50,000 in bodily injury liability per accident
  • $25,000 in
    property damage liability
    per accident
  • $25,000 in bodily injury uninsured motorist coverage per person
  • $50,000 in bodily injury uninsured motorist coverage per accident
This is just the minimum, though, and liability coverage only covers other people’s injuries or property damage in the event of an accident—not yours. Again, damages can quickly exceed the minimum insurance limits, which is why
collision coverage
comprehensive coverage
are always recommended.
“I just had to buy a new car, and I needed quick help to get insurance before I could get my plates. Because I work so many hours,
was the ideal choice for getting things done without long phone calls and waiting periods.”  —Rosa G.
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