South Dakota Motorcycle Accidents

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South Dakota Motorcycle Accidents
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south dakota motorcycle accidentHurt in a Motorcycle Accident in South Dakota?

Local Attorneys Explain Motorcycle Laws and Insurance Requirements

Due to the open design of a motorcycle, the rider may sustain severe injuries in the event of a crash with another vehicle. Even if a motorcyclist wears a helmet and full-body protective gear, the effects of an accident may be devastating. After such a crash, you may be able to collect compensation through an insurance claim, just as you would after any other motor vehicle accident. However, determining liability after a motorcycle crash can be difficult, especially as insurance adjusters may try to reduce your settlement if you were not wearing a helmet. Additionally, some states have different insurance requirements and laws related to motorcyclists, which may complicate your claim. Below, our local South Dakota motorcycle accident attorneys explain the unique aspects of these kinds of claims.

Having a qualified attorney on your side after a motorcycle accident is often essential to getting the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and defend your right to full compensation, regardless of helmet use. If you need to find a South Dakota attorney for your motorcycle accident claim, then consult our local listings.

How Are Motorcycle Accident Claims Unique?

A motorcycle accident claim usually involves serious injuries or even wrongful death, especially if much larger vehicles are involved. Other differences that set motorcycle accidents apart from car crashes include:

  • Different common causes. Driver distraction and inattention are common causes of motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles. Due to the smaller size of a motorcycle, drivers in other vehicles may fail to notice an oncoming rider, causing a deadly crash. Additionally, negligent drivers may try to pass motorcyclists or share a lane, which increases the chances of a wreck. Finally, drinking and riding is one of the leading causes of single-vehicle motorcycle accidents and deaths, according to the CDC.
  • More possible hazards. Certain hazards which may not affect cars and trucks can be deadly for motorcyclists. Road defects in particular may be dangerous for motorcyclists; in these cases, the city or government body responsible for the road may be liable for the crash. Additionally, adverse weather and defects in the bike and/or equipment may cause of contribute to motorcycle accident injuries.
  • Possible biases. In some cases, insurance adjusters and/or juries may have biases against motorcyclists. For example, these parties may be more inclined to assume the motorcyclist was speeding or driving recklessly. Additionally, not wearing a helmet may make it more difficult to obtain fair compensation – though helmet use does not legally affect your ability to recover.
  • Higher verdicts and settlements. Since the injuries and damages a motorcyclist suffers are usually high, the result of a motorcycle accident claim may be higher, compared to other claims. Since this compensation is usually necessary for riders to afford medical treatments, it is a good idea to consult an attorney who can protect your claim.

What Are the South Dakota Motorcycle License and Insurance Requirements?

In all 50 states, motorcyclists must have a special endorsement on their licenses in order to legally ride. However, the requirements that you must meet to obtain a “Class M” endorsement vary by location. In South Dakota, the requirements are:

  • A person may not operate a motorcycle, except a moped, without a motor vehicle driver’s license or permit upon which a state testing officer has certified that such person is qualified to operate the motorcycle. However, the operator of a moped must have a valid motor vehicle operator’s license or permit.
  • The Department may waive the motorcycle testing requirements upon completion of an approved motorcycle safety course.
  • Any minor who has successfully completed the Department approved motorcycle safety education courses, and a driver education course of another state that the Secretary of Public Safety has determined is acceptable, can qualify for a restricted minor’s permit in 30 days.
  • A motorcycle restricted minor’s permit may be issued, upon application and payment of the proper fee, to a minor who is at least 14 years of age but less than 18 years of age. The applicant must have successfully passed all applicable tests and completed the requirements of an instruction permit and must have not been convicted of any traffic violation during the previous 6 months.
  • While driving a motorcycle during nighttime hours, the beginner’s permit, conditional license or special restricted license permittee must be accompanied by a motorcycle-licensed driver twenty-one years of age or older who has had at least one year of driving experience. The accompanying driver must occupy a seat beside him/her when operating a motor vehicle or be within a safe viewing distance.
  • A motorcycle restricted minor’s permit entitles the holder to operate a motorcycle during the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. if the motorcycle is being operated with the permission of the holder’s parents or guardian.

Additionally, you must carry vehicle insurance on your bike in South Dakota. The minimum requirements for this coverage are the same for any other vehicle; you must have:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person. This means that each person, other than the policy holder, can receive up to $$$ in compensation for injuries.
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident. Regardless of the injury coverage limits per person, the insurer will only pay $$$ total for all injuries related to a single accident.
  • $25,000 property damage liability coverage. This applies to the damage to vehicles other than the policy holder’s car.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. If you have this coverage the at-fault driver in a car accident has no insurance, despite state laws, then you can file a UM/UIM claim with your own provider. Additionally, if your expenses exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, then this policy can help make up the difference.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP). If you have PIP coverage, then you can file a claim with your insurer for your own injuries and property damage, even if you were at-fault for the accident. Although South Dakota does not require PIP protection, it is often a good idea to purchase this kind of policy anyway. Without it, you may be responsible for paying your expenses out of pocket if you cause a crash.  

Additionally, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to negotiate for a lower or variable insurance premium for your motorcycle if you do not ride it consistently. For example, most people do not travel by motorcycle in the winter months, so you may be able to purchase a “lay-up” policy, which reduces your coverage, and therefore your premium, during a certain time period.

Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Claim If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?

South Dakota is one of 28 states that have partial motorcycle helmet laws, which make helmets mandatory for only some people. According to state laws, all riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. All other riders are free to choose whether to wear a helmet. A motorcycle helmet can help protect you from serious head and brain injuries in the event of an accident. Other protective gear that can minimize potential motorcycle accident injuries includes: sturdy boots, light-weight riding armor, thick pants, a long-sleeved jacket and durable gloves. Additionally, since some neighboring states have universal helmet laws, it is a good idea to check local requirements if you plan to travel across state lines.

Although South Dakota law may not require you to wear a motorcycle helmet, insurance companies often try to claim that you contributed to your own injuries by failing to wear a helmet. However, insurance companies cannot use lack of helmet use as a reason to reduce your settlement. If this happens, then a qualified motorcycle attorney can help you fight for full and fair compensation.

Hurt While Riding? Find a Local Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, then an attorney may be able to help. To find a local lawyer, consult our listings. Otherwise, if you have a question or concern about motorcycle accident claims, then feel free to ask the lawyers.

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