The Swier Law Firm Personal Litigation FAQs
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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In South Dakota, can an employer be liable for an employee's actions?
Yes. In South Dakota, the doctrine of respondeat superior is well established as holding an employer liable for the employee’s or agent’s wrongful acts committed within the scope of the employment or agency. The employer’s liability is merely a derivative of the employee’s.
In South Dakota, what is respondeat superior?
In South Dakota, the doctrine of respondeat superior is well established as holding an employer liable for the employee’s or agent’s wrongful acts committed within the scope of the employment or agency. The employer’s liability is merely a derivative of the employee’s.
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.
What is Medical Payments Coverage in a South Dakota Car Insurance Policy?
This type of coverage is getting more important all the time. Medical payments coverage (it is often referred to as "medpay" in the legal world) is a small health insurance policy that will promptly pay a portion of your medical bills including co-pays and deductibles if you have been in an accident.
Who is responsible for a car accident when the road conditions are icy?
In South Dakota, every driver is charged with acting with due care depending on the conditions of the roadway. So if a driver loses control of his vehicle and causes a collision with your vehicle, such as a rear-end accident, the fact that the roads were icy and covered with snow is not a defense — he may still be responsible for the damage to your vehicle and your injuries.
What Are Some Common Causes of ATV Accidents in South Dakota?
Certain circumstances can lead to a greater risk of an ATV accident, including:
- Riding on pavement. ATVs are designed to be ridden off-road. With their high center of gravity and low-pressure tires, they are more likely to tip over or go out of control on pavement. When an ATV is ridden on regular streets, the risk to the rider is much greater than when it is off-road.
- Riding without adult supervision. Unsupervised children are more likely to speed, dart out into roads, and attempt tricks and maneuvers.
- Performing dangerous stunts. Both kids and adults attempt to jump obstacles, perform turning maneuvers, and race other ATVs, which can all lead to crashes and serious injuries.
- Riding on unfamiliar terrain. Not knowing the terrain can lead to crashing into trees, flipping in a hole or ditch, running on to a busy road, and many other hazards. Always approach new terrain with caution.
I was hurt in a truck accident on I-90 near Sturgis. The trucker admitted fault for the accident, but now the insurance company is saying I was partially responsible. What can I do?
This type of conduct is actually fairly common. Sometimes, smart people trust the wrong people. It makes sense that you want to believe what the truck driver’s insurance adjuster is saying.
Unfortunately, doing so can often leave you to pay for another person’s mistake.
This might surprise you, but the trucker has virtually no say in what happens in your case. In fact, trucking companies insure their drivers and cover them with special insurance plans. The adjusters that work on truck accident cases in South Dakota often work exclusively with these types of cases. Truck accidents are generally very different from car accident because:
- Truckers have different safety standards that they are required to meet.
- Truckers operate under federal regulations that are different than other vehicles.
- Truckers must have background checks performed before driving the vehicle.
- Truckers have a series of regulations for how many hours they can be on the road.
What is the difference between a personal injury case and wrongful death case in South Dakota?
Personal injury and wrongful death cases have one thing in common - they arise when the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of one person causes another person to suffer harm. Whatever the particular instances, both cases usually involve negligence. Other than that common factor, these claims are very different and their differences must be understood before a person attempts to file either of them.
In sum, a personal injury claim is based upon an injury that occurs to a person. Conversely, in a wrongful death claim (as the title suggests) the injured person is now deceased.
Can I ask my South Dakota lawyer for a copy of my personal injury settlement check?
Yes - and you should. As a client you have an absolute right to see a copy of the settlement check, and to review a copy of the settlement breakdown sheet before the check is deposited. Usually, the insurance company check has both your name and your attorney's name on it, so you would typically have to endorse the check before it could be placed in your lawyer's trust account. Ask your lawyer to provide you with a copy of the actual settlement check forwarded to him or her by the insurance company, as well as a copy of all checks written by the attorney to cover costs connected with your case.
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.