Get Answers to Your Highest Priority South Dakota Legal Questions

Swier Law Firm FAQ


Have questions? We have answers! Our South Dakota attorneys answer the questions they hear most often from clients just like you.

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  • What is Subrogation?

    Subrogation occurs when another company or party has a claim on some part of your verdict or settlement. It is not unusual that if your health insurance company pays your medical bills associated with an accident, and you recover those bills from another insurance company, you will have to repay your own health insurance company. That is because they are "subrogated" to your claim. 

  • I was recently injured in a car accident in Brookings and I keep hearing the term "punitive damages." What are "punitive damages" in South Dakota?

    Punitive damages are money awarded on top of compensatory damages. These kinds of damages are rarely awarded, and their purpose is to deter the defendant from similar actions in the future. What counts as an act deserving of punitive damages is often vague and arbitrary, but fraud, bad faith, and an intent to harm usually make the list. For example, a car company that knowingly neglected safety issues in its car’s braking systems could be ordered to pay punitive damages to the family whose son was injured as a result of the faulty brakes.

  • What should I do immediately after an accident in South Dakota?

    Seek medical care first and foremost. Even if you feel generally intact and able to walk away, injuries associated with a car crash can get worse in the hours and days ahead. If you are able, try to collect all the information you can from people at the scene, including other drivers, passengers, eyewitnesses and anyone who arrived. The information you collect should include insurance policies, driver's license numbers and vehicle makes and models. Taking photographs of the scene can help tremendously as well, as can keeping copies of all police reports and medical records.

  • What are the 5 most common causes of car accidents in South Dakota?

    Each car accident case is different. However, in South Dakota, the 5 most common causes of automobile accidents are:

    1.  Distracted Driving. Some common distractions include texting, talking on the phone, using the Internet, eating, and dealing with passengers. 

    2.  Speeding. South Dakota has many different speed limit laws. Anyone driving just one mile per hour over the posted speed limit is speeding. Speeding may not leave a driver enough time to stop or react to driving conditions.

    3.  Drunk Driving. A driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher is considered to be drunk in South Dakota. Drunk drivers, or drivers under the influence of drugs, can cause catastrophic crashes.

    4.  Tired Driving. Drivers may underestimate how dangerous it is to drive while tired, but sleepy drivers can be as dangerous as distracted and drunk drivers.

    5. Aggressive Driving. Aggressive drivers who weave in and out of traffic, tailgate, or make other dangerous moves can lose control or be unable to avoid a serious wreck.

  • Can I Sue My Insurance Company For Bad Faith In South Dakota?

    Yes, so long as certain facts are met, insurance companies can absolutely be sued and held accountable for their wrongdoing. Remember, all insurance policies are contracts. In other words, your insurance company promises to pay money in the event of an accident, and in return, you pay a premium. In South Dakota, the law says there is an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in every contract. When that covenant is violated, it is considered bad faith, and opens insurance companies up to lawsuits.

  • What Are The Main Causes of Car Accidents in South Dakota?

    In South Dakota, the main causes of car accidents are:

    • Speeding
    • Distracted Driving
    • Drunk or Drugged Drivers
    • Following Too Closely
    • Reckless Driving
    • Failure to Following Traffic Devices and Signs

  • How Long Do I Have To File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit in South Dakota?

    Under South Dakota law, a wrongful death lawsuit must be commenced within three years after the death of the deceased person.

  • What Are The Consequences of Distracted Driving?

    In 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.


    During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes. 

  • What Is Distracted Driving?

    Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.


    Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.


    You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

  • What types of cases in South Dakota are handled in juvenile court?

    All criminal cases against juveniles, except hunting, fishing, boating, park, traffic offenses or underage consumption or possession of alcohol, are started in juvenile court. After the filing of the petition alleging a child to be delinquent, the prosecutor has the option of seeking to have the case moved to adult court.

    Before a court will transfer a juvenile from juvenile to regular court, the judge will consider the seriousness of the offense, the manner in which the offense was committed, whether the offense was against persons or property, the prosecutorial merit of the complaint, the desirability of one proceeding where adults and juveniles have been charged in the same action, the prior record of the juvenile, the protection of the public, the prospects of rehabilitation of juvenile, and the juvenile's mental, physical and social history.

    If a child is 16 years of age or older and has committed murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, rape, 1st degree burglary or other serious violent felony, it is presumed that he should be transferred from juvenile court and treated as an adult.