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North Dakota Car Accident Report Basics

It's safe to say that nobody looks forward to being in an auto accident. In the best-case scenario, it's an annoying hassle, but a car crash can also result in life-altering injuries and even death. North Dakota's population continues to rise, as does the risk of collisions. 

The aftermath of an accident is often traumatic and chaotic. Knowing your legal obligations can help pave the way for a much easier time during the recovery process. It's also a boon to understand police accident reports and realize their importance to insurance companies.

This article aims to teach you about pertinent North Dakota automotive laws. You'll learn what to do and what not to do at an accident scene. We'll touch on personal injury claims, dealing with car insurance companies, and when you need law enforcement officers at the scene of the accident. 

Special attention will be given to North Dakota crash reports, police reports, and what you'll need to file insurance claims. Let's learn together about everything there is to know about car accident reports in North Dakota.

Overview of North Dakota Car Accident Laws

North Dakota gets drivers behind the wheel earlier than most states, with an unrestricted license available at age 16. Programs like Vision Zero advocate safety measures such as seat belts and sober driving to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities. Understanding the basics of North Dakota accident laws is a necessity.

Required Liability Insurance in North Dakota

To be a legal driver in North Dakota, you must have liability insurance. The types required and their minimums include:

  • Basic No-Fault: $30,000 per person. North Dakota is a no-fault state, which means you're responsible for covering your medical expenses after an accident. Basic no-fault insurance provides you coverage for economic loss, such as medical bills and work loss, as a result of an accidental injury without regard to fault. No-fault is also known as personal injury protection (PIP).
  • Bodily Injury Liability: $25,000 per person (the maximum amount payable to one person)/$50,000 per accident (the maximum amount payable to all people injured in one accident). Bodily injury liability provides coverage for claims brought against you for bodily injury caused to another person through the operation of your vehicle.
  • Property Damage Liability: $25,000 per accident. Property damage liability provides coverage for claims brought against you for damage caused to someone else's property through the operation of your vehicle. It also covers damage to a car you rent for personal use on a short-term basis.
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. Uninsured motorist coverage provides you coverage for a bodily injury claim you would have against another driver who does not have insurance. This coverage does not pay for physical damage to your vehicle.
  • Underinsured Motorist Coverage: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. Underinsured motorist coverage must be equal to uninsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage provides you coverage for a bodily injury claim you would have against another driver whose liability coverage is less than your underinsured coverage.

After an accident, you'll begin the insurance claim process whether you were at fault or not. To better understand the ins and outs of insurance claims and what to expect, FindLaw's North Dakota Car Accident Settlement and Timeline article breaks down the process step by step. 

North Dakota and Negligence

In addition to being a no-fault state, North Dakota follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence. This affects damages in a couple of ways. If you're determined to have been at least 50% responsible for the accident, you can't recover any damages.

If you were less than 50% responsible, you're eligible to receive damages, but the amount you get will be modified by your share of the fault. If your damages were $10,000 and you were 25% at fault, you'd be awarded $7,500.

For a more detailed explanation of how fault, negligence, and damages work, see FindLaw's North Dakota Car Accident Compensation Laws article.

What To Do After an Auto Accident in North Dakota

It won't be easy, but do your best to remain calm after an auto accident. While you have certain legal responsibilities, it's also important to ensure everyone involved is OK. Check yourself for injury before doing the same for others.

No matter how minor it may seem, never leave the scene of an accident without at least exchanging information with the others involved. If certain conditions are met, you must call law enforcement and have them come to the scene of the accident. The police must be summoned if:

  • There are any injuries
  • There are any fatalities
  • There is at least $4,000 of damage

Even if it's a minor accident, it's a good idea to have the police come. Unless you're knowledgeable about cars, it can be difficult to know what $4,000 worth of damage looks like. When you call 911, let the operator know about any injuries. 

If you can, take pictures of the accident scene from as many angles as possible. If anyone saw it, try to get witness statements and their contact information. You should exchange information with the other driver(s), such as:

  • Driver's license numbers
  • Name, address, phone number
  • Auto insurance policy information
  • License plate number

When the police arrive, answer their questions as truthfully as possible. Even if you think the accident might have been your fault, do your best not to admit it. Their accident report will consist of statements from drivers, passengers, and witnesses, along with objective facts such as:

  • Weather
  • Road conditions
  • Lighting/time of day
  • Diagrams showing the point of impact and the positions of the vehicles involved
  • Pertinent traffic signals/signs

While the law enforcement official was not a witness, the traffic report will play a large part in how insurance companies determine fault and negligence.

Alert your insurance carrier about the accident as soon as possible. Seek medical help if you're injured. Your personal injury protection (PIP) will cover the medical expenses. Get a copy of the accident report from the North Dakota Crash Record Database. The fee for each copy is $7.

Filing a Car Crash Report in North Dakota Summary

The chart below recaps what we've learned above about North Dakota laws and procedures for filing a car crash report.

North Dakota State Accident Statutes

North Dakota Vehicle Code § § 39-08-09 Immediate notice of accident


Reporting a Crash to Police

Call the police immediately when:

  • A person is killed
  • Anyone is injured
  • Total property damage of $4,000 or more

Crash Reports

Obtain a Traffic Crash Report North Dakota Highway Patrol

Note: State laws are subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Frequently Asked Questions About North Dakota Accident Law

Every accident is different, but some parts are the same as others. You may find the following answers useful in your situation.

In my accident, the other driver's wheel got knocked off, and they had to be towed. There wasn't much other damage, so we didn't call the police. Was that a mistake?

There's a strong chance that you should have called the police. Unless you're familiar with both bodywork and mechanical repairs, it's difficult to accurately estimate the amount of damage to a vehicle. There could be damage to the unibody or the frame you can't see.

North Dakota law requires tow truck companies to report any vehicle transported that shows evidence of being involved in a reportable accident. Repair shops have the same requirement to report damaged vehicles that do not bear a police accident sticker. 

Why do these laws exist? They keep hit-and-run drivers from being able to fix the damage from their accident to hide their guilt. While the fine for not reporting an accident isn't too bad, you could lose your driving privileges. If you have any doubt, err on the side of caution and call the police.

My medical expenses are far more than my PIP covers. Can I sue the person who hit my car?

Despite North Dakota being a no-fault state, there are some instances when you can file a personal injury lawsuit. The first thing to know is that there are time limits called statutes of limitation that dictate how long you have to file. In North Dakota, you have six years from the date of the accident to make a personal injury claim.

Note that if you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family member, the statute of limitations is only two years before the window closes.

The injuries you can sue for in North Dakota are limited by the state. You can seek recovery in civil court if:

  • You suffered a serious injury
  • You suffered permanent disfigurement
  • Your medical bills exceeded $2,500
  • You suffered a disability that lasted more than 60 days

When dealing with something that will affect the rest of your life, it's a good idea to have a personal injury lawyer in your corner for legal advice.

Do I really have to wear a seatbelt? Does it even matter?

In 2022, 69% of motor vehicle fatalities in North Dakota were not wearing seat belts. They work together with airbags to lessen the impact and force caused by accidents.

They may be uncomfortable, but they save lives. 

Get an Attorney's Help With Your Auto Accident Claim

Just because North Dakota is a no-fault insurance state doesn't mean that getting fully compensated after an accident is an easy process. When accidents are more serious, you have the option to step outside of the no-fault system and pursue a liability claim against the other driver.

Learn more about how to navigate the insurance claim process and how to file a lawsuit, if one is necessary, by reaching out to a local car accident attorney.

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