If you’ve been injured in a car crash involving two or more vehicles, the negligent driver who caused the accident is liable for your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. If only one driver caused the accident, the case is fairly straightforward. You may file a claim against that driver’s insurance company to seek fair compensation.
South Dakota, however, is a comparative negligence state with its own unique way of determining fault in an accident. This means that more than one driver could bear a percentage of the responsibility for the wreck. If you are found partially at fault for the accident, you still might be able to recover damages, but the process of doing so is complex and requires the skills of an experienced attorney.
Understanding Slight Versus Gross Negligence in a Car Accident Case
South Dakota law allows a plaintiff (the injured party filing a claim) who bears only slight responsibility for an accident to receive compensation for damages. The amount of your award can be reduced according to your percentage of responsibility. The lower your percentage of fault, the more you can recover.
If you are found to bear gross responsibility, however, you might not be able to recover any damages at all. For this reason, the most important factor in the investigation of a South Dakota car crash is the difference between slight and gross negligence. In 1997, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that a plaintiff who is found more than 30% responsible for an accident is barred from seeking compensation and may not file a claim for damages.
The Importance of Hiring an Attorney
Determining your percentage of fault in an accident is a complex process that depends on the results of investigations by the police and other interested parties. In order to be sure the calculation of your percentage of fault is fair, your attorney might:
- Send a private accident investigator to the scene to get an independent evaluation of your fault.
- Reconstruct the accident if necessary and present visual evidence in the form of photos or video.
- Thoroughly gather and present all evidence to prove your percentage of fault in the accident.
Contact Our Experienced Sioux Falls Attorneys Today
If you are partially responsible for a car accident in South Dakota, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you to get a fair determination of your percentage of fault. Contact us online or call us at 605-644-5003 to schedule a free consultation.