Attorney David J. King


Why does South Dakota require underinsured motorist coverage?

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2021 | Car Accidents

Every driver in South Dakota has to carry at least a minimum amount of insurance. To legally drive in South Dakota, a person must pay for $25,000 worth of property damage liability coverage. They also need $25,000 worth of bodily injury liability coverage in case they hurt one person in a crash or $50,000 worth of coverage in case two or more people suffer injuries.

In addition to that liability coverage, South Dakota also requires that all drivers carry at least an equivalent amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist protection. Why is this secondary coverage required of every driver?

Low levels of insurance coverage leave substantial gaps

When you file a claim after a car wreck, you expect insurance will pay to repair your vehicle or replace it. You also expect coverage for your medical care and wages you lost if you had to take a leave of absence from work.

The more serious your injury is, the more it will likely cost you. If the other driver only has the minimum amount of insurance required by South Dakota law, that might leave you with tens of thousands of dollars in uncovered losses including lost income, medical expenses and even vehicle replacement costs if you drive a newer, modified or high-end vehicle.

By mandating uninsured and underinsured driver protection, the South Dakota government reduces the financial risk drivers have after a collision. When the other driver doesn’t have enough coverage to protect you or they let their policy lapse, you have the option of making a claim against your own insurance policy.

The more underinsured and uninsured driver protection you have, the more coverage you will have available to you if a crash causes catastrophic injuries, like a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury.

What if you still don’t have enough insurance?

Sometimes, both the driver who causes the crash and the person who gets hurt in a wreck will only have low levels of insurance coverage. In that scenario, the person who did not cause the crash but suffered substantial losses may have no choice but to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. The person at fault for the wreck ultimately has liability if there isn’t enough insurance to offset the damages they cause.

Learning about various forms of compensation available in South Dakota can help you mitigate your losses after a wreck.