Motorcycle Accidents at the Sturgis Rally: Your Legal Options

Hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts come to the small town of Sturgis, South Dakota, every year to enjoy the freedom of the open roads and partake in some of the best motorcycle-related festivities around. 

These bikers get to Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents at the Sturgis Rally experience the joys of riding through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country while also enjoying the camaraderie that comes with being around so many like-minded individuals. 

However, the influx of bikers also means that there is an increased risk for motorcycle accidents. In fact, recent data fromSouth Dakota State Newscompiled from August 6 to August 14, 2022, reports 3044 warnings, 823 citations, 19 non-injury crashes, 34 injury crashes, and one fatality. Cash worth as much as $4335.00 was seized over the course of the rally. 

While Rapids City District's total number of DUI arrests was only 32, the authorities reported 116 DUI arrests from Sturgis. Over 190 people were arrested for drug possession in Sturgis during the rally. 

In the previous year (2021), 1,572 citations, 4,319 warnings, 50 non-injury crashes, 60 injury crashes, 122 DUI arrests, and 263 drug possession arrests were reported in Sturgis during the rally. 

All this data considered, it's clear that motorcycle accidents are a significant problem during the Sturgis Rally. 

In this piece, we will detail some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents at the Sturgis Rally, as well as your legal options if you or a loved one is involved in an accident. 

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents at the Sturgis Rally 

There are many factors that can contribute to motorcycle accidents, but some are more common than others during the Sturgis Rally. 

Impaired Driving 

As highlighted above, as many as 190 people were arrested for drug possession in Sturgis during the rally in 2022. DUI arrests have also been consistently high, with 116 reported during the rally. 

Motorcyclists and drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are a danger to everyone on the road. They pose an especially heightened risk to motorcycle riders. This is because motorcyclists are more vulnerable than other motorists since they do not have the same level of protection that comes with being inside a car. 

Impaired drivers often fail to see motorcyclists on the road, or they may misjudge their speed and distance, leading to a collision. 


With the wide open spaces and scenic routes, it's no wonder that many bikers want to let loose and enjoy the wind in their face by speeding during the Sturgis Rally. 

However, speeding is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents, and it's even more dangerous when combined with the other risk factors present during the rally (i.e., impaired driving, crowded roads, etc.). 

Speeding makes it more difficult for bikers to navigate obstacles on the road, and it also increases the severity of injuries if an accident occurs. 

Crowded Roads 

The 81st annual Sturgis Rally brought 445,700 from all over the 50 states and other countries, setting a new attendance record. 

With such a high volume of people, the roads around Sturgis can become very crowded, which can lead to accidents. Motorcyclists may have difficulty maneuvering around other vehicles, and drivers may have trouble seeing motorcyclists in the sea of cars and bikes. 


With so much going on during the Sturgis Rally, it's easy for both drivers and motorcyclists to become distracted. 

Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents, and it can be even more dangerous for motorcyclists since they are already at a higher risk for accidents. 

Some common distractions during the rally include talking to passengers, using a cell phone, eating or drinking, and changing the music. 

What Are Your Legal Options After a Sturgis Motorcycle Accident? 

The approach you take after a motorcycle accident will depend on who was at fault for the accident. 

If the other driver was at fault, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against their insurance company to recover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

You will need to prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident and that you suffered injuries as a result. 

If the other driver was partially at fault, you may still be able to recover damages, but your percentage of fault will reduce your compensation. 

For example, if you were found to be 20% at fault for the accident and the other driver was 80% at fault, you would only be able to recover 80% of your damages. 

If you were found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, you would not be able to recover any damages from the other driver. 

It's important to note that South Dakota has a modified comparative fault rule, which means that you can not recover if you are more than slightly at fault for the accident.

This type of coverage protects you in the event that you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover your damages. 

If you have this coverage, you would file a claim with your own insurance company to recover damages. 


Although the Sturgis Rally is primarily a motorcycle event, many pedestrians also come to town to enjoy the festivities. 

With so many people on the streets, pedestrian accidents are not uncommon. 

Drivers may fail to see pedestrians crossing the street or may be unable to stop in time to avoid hitting them. 

Pedestrians may also be injured if they are hit by a motorcycle. 

As a pedestrian, you have the right of way when crossing the street at a crosswalk or intersection. 

Drivers must yield to pedestrians and give them enough time to cross the street safely. 

If you are hit by a car while crossing the street, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the driver's insurance company to recover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

If the driver was at fault for the accident, you should have no problem recovering damages. 

However, if you were found to be at fault for the accident, you may not be able to recover any damages from the driver. A personal injury lawyer can help you assess your options.  

What to Do If You Are Injured at the Sturgis Rally 

It is also important for anyone injured in a Sturgis rally accident to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you don't think you're injured, it's always better to err on the side of caution and get checked out by a doctor. 

Many injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and internal bleeding, may not present themselves immediately but can be very serious. 

A police report should also be filed as soon as possible after the accident. 

This will document the accident and may be important evidence if you decide to file a personal injury claim. 

You should not wait to contact a lawyer, as there is a statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims in South Dakota. This is usually three years from the date of the accident. 

If you wait too long to file a claim, you may be barred from recovery. 

It's also important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident so that they can begin investigating your case and collecting evidence. 

A lawyer will also be able to negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf and fight for the compensation you deserve. 

Talk to A Sturgis Rally Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today 

YATES & SHUBECK LAW is a trusted and experienced personal injury law firm representing many clients injured in accidents at the Sturgis Rally. 

We understand the unique challenges that come with these types of cases and will fight to get you the compensation you need to recover. 

Contact us today for a free consultation. We will review your case and advise you of your legal options.