Car accidents happen daily. When you are involved in one, it can be difficult to know what to do. This article will help you better understand what to do following your accident and how to move forward.

Should I call an attorney?

Car accidents are an everyday occurrence, and not every accident requires the involvement of a lawyer. In certain situations, though, it can be very beneficial to have an experienced car accident lawyer on your side. For instance, if someone was seriously or fatally injured in an accident, you should speak with a lawyer to make sure your interests are fairly represented and that you are able to recover all of the damages to which you are entitled, including any relevant damages for pain and suffering. You may also want to speak with a lawyer if the accident caused extensive property damage, if multiple vehicles (and multiple insurance companies) are involved, or if there is a dispute concerning who was at fault.

Even if you initially handle the aftermath of an accident on your own, you may find that you need the advice of a lawyer at some point further along in the process.  If your insurance company denies your claim or offers you a settlement that seems unfair, a lawyer can review the details of your case and help you negotiate the best possible settlement.

What should I ask for in a settlement?

Vehicular damage and medical bills are common losses after an accident, and their worth is relatively easy to quantify and document.  In addition to property damage and bodily injury, though, car accidents can also result in psychological distress, including anxiety, humiliation, torment, depression, and insomnia. Damages for pain and suffering are hard to assign a value to, and an insurance company may apply a generalized formula that doesn’t fully account for the mental harm that you have experienced. In South Dakota, you can recover damages for past and future pain and suffering.  By discussing your injuries, including any mental harm suffered, with a car accident lawyer, you can get a better sense of what you may be entitled to if you agree to a settlement or if you take your personal injury case to court.

Who is liable in a car accident?

The party that is at fault is responsible for paying the damages after a car accident.  If you are involved in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, the at-fault party is responsible for providing compensation that covers all the harm that resulted from that negligence.

In South Dakota, it is possible for fault to be divided among the parties involved.  According to the rules of contributory negligence that operate in the state, you may recover damages following an accident so long as you are not found to be more than slightly at fault.  If you are found to be less than slightly at fault, the amount that you are able to recover will be reduced according to the percentage of fault for which you are responsible.  For example, if you sustain $10,000 worth of damages, and it is decided that you were 10% at fault for the accident, then you would be entitled to recover $9,000.

Understanding who is liable in a car accident is an important part of the claim process. A car accident attorney can help you decipher liability.

How long will it take to settle if I have a lawyer?

Depending on the facts of your car accident case, a settlement could be reached easily or require more time and effort.  The process begins once a claim is submitted to your insurance company. An insurance adjuster will investigate and review the details of your accident, and then your insurance company will either reject your claim or offer a settlement. If you feel that you have been offered an unfair amount of compensation, then you can submit a counterclaim with additional evidence that may support your claim, but the negotiations may go on for quite some time before you actually receive compensation following an accident.

An experienced car accident attorney who is used to dealing with insurance companies and knowledgeable about the value of your claim may be able to reduce the length of your car accident settlement timeline and help you receive the money you are owed more quickly. At the same time, you can expect that your attorney will fight to get you the maximum settlement to which you are entitled.

What if the insurance company denies my claim without a reason?

A car insurance company is not allowed to deny your claim without a reason. Unfortunately, it still happens.  The insurance company may also draw out the claims process in the hopes that you will drop the claim, suggest that your claim is worth much less than it really is, or simply not pay the claim.  Before you give up, contact a knowledgeable South Dakota car accident lawyer to understand your legal rights.


Car accident cases can be complex, so get an attorney who can guide your from start to finish. For more information, contact Turbak Law Office today at (866) 231-0914.