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Maring Williams Law Office, P.C.

1220 Main Avenue
Suite 105
Fargo, North Dakota 58103


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North Dakota Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

Around 100 people per year die on North Dakota’s roads, making it one of the nation’s safer states to drive. If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else, however, or if your close relative was killed in such an accident, you may be eligible to file a claim for damages under North Dakota’s car accident laws. Following are some laws that may be relevant to your claim:

Statute of Limitations: North Dakota’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is generous by national standards – you have six years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury or property damage before your claim expires. If someone was killed in the accident, the statutory deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of the victim’s death.

When the Victim is Partly at Fault: If the victim was partly to blame for the accident, the court will assign a percentage of fault to the victim. If this percentage is less than 50 percent, the court will simply deduct that percent from the damages award. If the victim’s percentage of fault was 50 percent or more, no damages will be awarded.

Fault/No Fault Rule: North Dakota is a “no-fault” state – ordinarily you must first look to your own insurance for compensation, regardless of whose fault the accident was. If your medical bills exceed $2,500, however, or if you suffered a “serious” injury that lasts more than 60 days, you may either claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy or file a lawsuit.

Minimum Insurance Coverage: North Dakota drivers are required by law to carry liability insurance with policy limits of at least $25,000 personal injury coverage per victim, $50,000 personal injury coverage per accident, and $25,000 coverage for property damage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers Coverage: North Dakota drivers must carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of at least $25,000 in personal injury coverage per victim and $50,000 in total personal injury coverage per accident.

Types of Damages Available: Full compensatory damages are available, although non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are limited to $500,000. Eligibility for punitive damages must be proved by “clear and convincing evidence”, and punitive damages are capped at twice the amount of compensatory damages or $ 250,000, whichever is greater.

Product Liability for Defective Vehicles: Strict product liability is available.

Suing the Government over Defective Roadways (Sovereign Immunity): Compensatory damages are limited to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. Punitive damages are not available.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: Riders under 18 must wear helmets.

Seat Belt Laws: Occupants 18 and older must buckle up when sitting in the front seat. The maximum fine for a first offense is $20. Although occupants under 18 must buckle up no matter where they are seated, this is a secondary offense – the officer must stop you for some other offense first. The maximum first-offense fine is $25, and licensed drivers can have one point deducted from their license.

Dram Shop Law: Both licensed alcohol vendors and social hosts can be held liable for providing alcohol to underage drinkers or clearly intoxicated adults, if an injury to a third party results from the intoxication (a subsequent DUI accident, for example).

DUI/DWI Penalties (first offense): First-time North Dakota DUI offenders face no jail time. A fine of $500 to $750 can be assessed, along with a driver’s license suspension of 91 to 180 days.

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): Texting while driving is banned in North Dakota, while drivers under 18 are prohibited from using cell phones while driving (regardless of whether or not hand-held).