Personal Injury South Dakota FAQ

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What types of injury accidents do I need a personal injury lawyer for in South Dakota?

Not all accidents require an attorney, but hiring an injury lawyer could help prevent lifelong financial stress for you and your family if you:

  • Suffered a serious injury resulting in a permanent disability
  • Are unable to work due to a serious injury
  • Are facing a mountain of medical expenses

In addition, an injury attorney can assist if you are not sure who is at fault, if there are multiple parties involved, or if the insurance company for the ‘at-fault’ party is not responding or is denying your claim.

What is considered a wrongful death in South Dakota?

A wrongful death is a death caused by the wrongful act, or negligence, of another person or entity. Examples might include car accidents, accidents during construction, or death caused by the negligence of a doctor or health care provider, which is also called medical negligence.

What is the statute of limitations for bringing a wrongful death claim in South Dakota?

In South Dakota, wrongful death lawsuits must be brought within three years of the death. There are exceptions to this rule, such as in medical malpractice cases, which must be brought within two years of the date of the wrongful act, or negligence, regardless of when the death occurred.

Who can bring a wrongful death case in South Dakota?

Wrongful death lawsuits in South Dakota must be brought by a personal representative of the deceased. If the deceased did not identify a personal representative in his or her will, or died without a will, an attorney can assist in having a personal representative appointed by the court.

  • The personal representative pursues the wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased’s spouse and children. If the deceased did not have a spouse or children, the personal representative may bring a claim on behalf of parents and next of kin.

Does it matter if my family member did not leave a will before wrongful death?

The lack of a will does not prevent you from pursuing a wrongful death claim on behalf of your loved one. An attorney can assist in having a family member appointed as a personal representative.

What types of damages can be recovered in South Dakota wrongful death cases?

Although money can never replace your loved one, the intent of the law is to make claimants whole again by potentially replacing the monetary support the decedent would have provided.

In addition, while family members cannot recover for the distress and grief caused by their loved one’s death,  they can make a claim to recover for the loss of companionship and protection the decedent would have given them.

If the deceased experienced pain and suffering before his or her death due to negligence, the estate can seek recoveries for that suffering on behalf of the deceased. These are sometimes referred to as “survival damages.” Punitive damages—additional damages intended to punish the negligent party—cannot be awarded in a wrongful death case under South Dakota law.

How quickly should I hire an attorney in a wrongful death case?

Because you must bring your case within a specific period of time, it is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible. It takes time to investigate the circumstances surrounding a death, and an experienced attorney can help you navigate this process.

What is the Statute of Limitations for car accidents in South Dakota?

Typically, a claim for personal injuries resulting from a car accident in South Dakota must be brought within three years. There are exceptions to this rule that can shorten the timeframe, such as if the other driver is a state or government worker. Because you must bring your case within a specific period of time, it is best to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible.

What is Comparative Negligence in South Dakota car accident cases?

Comparative negligence, sometimes called comparative fault, typically refers to whether the claimant bears any fault or responsibility for the accident.

In South Dakota, you can still bring a claim for your injuries following a car accident even if the accident was partially your fault.

The law requires that your negligence be “slight” compared to the other driver’s, and your recovery will be reduced in proportion to your fault.  

What types of damages can be recovered in a car accident case in South Dakota?

You may be able to recover past and future medical bills and your past and future lost wages.

You can also recover for your pain and suffering and from any resulting disability or disfigurement that has affected your ability to live your life as you once had.

Your spouse may also be able to recover damages for the lost contributions to the household and marriage, which are often referred to damages for loss of consortium.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in South Dakota, contact us for a free case evaluation. Call our Sioux Falls office at 605.335.1300, or complete our free case evaluation form.

Brendan V. Johnson

Partner

Co-Chair, American Indian Law and Policy Group;
Co-Chair, Government and Internal Investigations Group

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