The chances of hitting a deer on the highway in South Dakota are some of the highest in a nation. Monday, a car-deer collision from 2008 ended up being the focus of a case heard by the South Dakota Supreme Court.
The crash happened on Interstate 229 in Sioux Falls when a car hit a deer and then was hit from behind by a second vehicle. The people in the first car sued, saying injuries were suffered because of the rear-end collision. But even though the jury found that the second car was following too closely, they didn't award any damages because they essentially found the deer was at fault.
"She was so close to the Hewitt vehicle that she could see the deer through the windshield of the Hewitt vehicle," Hewitt's attorney, Stephanie Amiotte, argued in front of the Supreme Court Monday.
Peggy Hewitt was riding with her son, Micah, when they hit a deer and then were rear ended by Shellie Rae Felderman. The attorney for Peggy Hewitt says Felderman was simply following too close and for that fact, she should have to pay some damages.
Hewitt's attorney made the case in front of the South Dakota Supreme Court during its first day of the October term of court at Black Hills State University in Spearfish.
"And they found, yes, Ms. Felderman was negligent in causing the 2008 accident, but they found that this accident did not cause Ms. Hewitt any injury or damages," Felderman's attorney Melanie Carpenter said. "Even if she was following too closely, in light of this deer, she still could not have gotten stopped in time to avoid the accident."
But Hewitt's attorney says Felderman should have to pay damages or at least attorney's fees.
"In this particular case, the negligent conduct by Felderman was following too closely to the Hewitt vehicle," Amiotte said.
Hewitt's attorney wants the justices to request a new trial to figure out how much those damages should be. The justices will make a final ruling at a later date.