South Dakota is a “tort” or “fault” state in terms of vehicle accidents. This means that you must carry liability insurance to cover the medical expenses, lost income, and property damage of victims in any accident that you cause. If you’re injured in a wreck caused by someone else, you may file a claim for your damages with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You also have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, but most vehicle accident cases are resolved out of court. (In “no-fault” states, you file a claim with your own insurer even if someone else causes your accident.)
Minimum Coverage Limits
South Dakota law requires every motorist to carry an auto insurance policy with the following minimum liability coverage limits:
- $25,000 for injury to or the death of one person resulting from one accident caused by that motorist
- $50,000 for injury to or the death of two or more persons resulting from one accident caused by that motorist
- $25,000 for property damage resulting from one accident caused by that motorist
A policy with these minimum limits is referred to as a “20/50/20” policy. If the costs of an accident that you cause exceed your policy limits, you’re financially responsible for the portion not covered by insurance. You may choose to purchase coverage with higher limits to protect yourself against liability for such a serious accident. Whatever your coverage limits, your liability insurance does not pay for your own injuries or property damage resulting from a crash that you caused. You would need collision or comprehensive coverage, both of which are optional and available for higher monthly premiums, to cover your own damages.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
South Dakota also requires you to carry uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage with the same minimum limits. If you’re injured by a driver without insurance or one with coverage limits lower than your expenses, your insurer will pay the remainder of those expenses up to your UM or UIM coverage limits.
If there are still outstanding expenses, you may file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. In such a case, the services of a Sioux Falls personal injury lawyer are highly recommended. Contact us online or call us at 605-644-5003 to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout South Dakota and northwest Iowa. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.