Interstate roads and highways are often the sites of the most serious kinds of accidents. The combination of high speeds and various types of large vehicles can be disastrous when someone makes a mistake.

A semi truck crash on Interstate 29 in the Dell Rapids area took the life of a local woman from South Dakota.

Truck driver dies when her vehicle hits a highway bridge pillar

The state police received an emergency call just before 7am on a Thursday morning just a few miles south of Dell Rapids near the Baltic Ave exit. An initial investigation revealed that a Kenworth T370 model semi truck made contact with a concrete bridge pillar while going north after colliding with a guard rail. Their initial suspicion is that the vehicle started to drift to the right and the driver lost control.

The 34 year old woman who was driving the truck died at the scene. As of the time of the initial news report, no other victims were found and local authorities believe no other vehicles were involved. Police confirmed that she was wearing a seatbelt while driving. The vehicle was being used as a nuclear medicine truck.

The truck was owned by the healthcare company Avera McKennan. They confirmed ownership of the vehicle and the fact that one of their drivers was involved in a major accident. The company released a statement which said they were actively working with the South Dakota Highway Patrol to address any ongoing or unnoticed public safety issues. Avera McKennan also stated that they were praying for the victim and their family.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation issued updates on their social media accounts to alert drivers and tell them to avoid the area of I-29 north near mile marker 97.

State negligence laws

Many motor vehicle cases that end up in civil courts are negligence cases. This means that the driver or business who made a mistake will have to pay any victims for their losses. South Dakota has its own system of negligence laws which are slightly different from everywhere else in the country.

In this state, the amount of fault of the plaintiff in the accident is very crucial. South Dakota allows a person who is partially at fault to collect damages after a collision, as long as they are only slightly at fault. Whether the driver was more than slightly at fault or not will be a factual issue for a judge or jury. If they are found to be more than slightly at fault, they absolutely cannot recover any money at all. There is also no system of comparative negligence, which allows fault to be divided between everyone to equal one hundred percent, as in some other states. Because this is a fairly unforgiving form of negligence laws, it is best to talk to a local attorney who is thoroughly familiar with the state’s civil statutes.

Laws related to fatal accidents

The rules of negligence are applied in a similar manner during a wrongful death case, but each state has a statute that provides much more specific rules regarding how lawsuits related to a deceased person will proceed. Certain surviving family members have three years to make a claim on the deceased person’s behalf in South Dakota, which is a fairly short statute of limitations. This lawsuit is also available even if the person is charged criminally. The disposition of the criminal case will not affect the outcome of the wrongful death case.

The case is brought by the representative of the dead person’s estate. If the representative collects any damages, they must go to the person’s spouse and children. If these relatives are not available, the damages go to the parents or other kin members based on the order listed in the statute. Damages are based on factors such as the deceased person’s earning potential and the services they provided to their family. Medical and funeral expenses can be factored into the total amount as well. There are also non-economic damages available related to the loss of the person’s companionship. Because calculating and summarizing damages in any civil case can become complex and difficult to predict, it is best to not estimate these amounts without first talking to a lawyer.

Civil attorneys and life changing injuries

Some local attorneys dedicate their practice to assisting victims and their families after accidents with commercial vehicles that cause catastrophic injuries or death. These firms can provide clients with a detailed outline of how their case will proceed, what actions the attorneys will take, and how they can expect to receive compensation and pay for legal services.

Learn more about filing a lawsuit against the driver or business at fault

It may be possible to bring a case against the entity responsible for your injuries and losses. Contact Ogborn, Mihm, and Quaintance for more information and guidance anywhere in the state of South Dakota.

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