On a dark, snowy night, you are cautiously driving home from work as your windshield wipers sweep away the heavy snow. You're on I-94, getting away from downtown Bismarck. Other cars are slowing down because of the rough conditions. Suddenly, the car behind you fails to slow down and crashes into your vehicle. What do you do now? What role do insurance companies play in this situation? Read on to learn about the North Dakota car accident settlement process and timeline.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in North Dakota?
Yes, in some cases. You are required to immediately contact local law enforcement if the car accident resulted in injury or death of a person, or property damage exceeding $1,000. You may call the local police, the Highway Patrol, or the County Sheriff's Office.
North Dakota Car Insurance Laws
North Dakota requires its drivers to carry car insurance at all times. Under its laws, car insurance must contain three types of coverage. First, it must contain liability coverage, which pays for the costs of injury or property damage you cause to others. This coverage must meet the following minimum amounts of coverage:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for total bodily injury when multiple people are injured
- $25,000 for property damage
Second, your car insurance must contain uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which pays for your injuries in a car accident caused by a driver who doesn't have car insurance. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage has the same requirement for the minimums. Third, your car insurance must contain no-fault coverage, also known as the personal injury protection (PIP), which covers your injuries no matter who is at fault for the accident. The minimum amount of PIP coverage is $30,000.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in North Dakota?
North Dakota is one of the few states to apply the "no-fault" system when it comes to car accidents and insurance claims. Under this system, you must first turn to your own insurance company for compensation, even if you didn't cause the accident.
In North Dakota, you have limited options to recover damages because of the no-fault system. You can file a lawsuit against the other driver or an insurance company only in cases of a serious car accident involving: (1) claims exceeding $2,500 in medical expenses, or (2) claims involving serious and permanent disfigurement or disability lasting more than 60 days.
Most of the time, car accident cases are settled with an insurance company or during settlement negotiations. North Dakota requires insurance companies to either affirm or deny a claim within "a reasonable time." Generally, an insurance company will open an investigation once it receives your claim. After calculating applicable damages, it will offer you a settlement check or deny your claim if you lack evidence.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in North Dakota?
There may be several types of damages involved in a single car accident case. In a typical car accident case, some of the common types of damages are medical expenses, car repair or replacement costs, lost wages due to missed work, and physical pain and suffering.
When it comes to shared fault, North Dakota applies the modified comparative negligence rule to determine who is at fault and how much damages an injured person can recover. Under this standard, you can recover damages as long as you are less than 50 percent at fault. The amount of damages you recover will be diminished by the proportion to the amount of your fault. However, if you are 50 percent or more at fault, you won't be able to recover any damages.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in North Dakota?
In North Dakota, you have six years to file a lawsuit for both personal injury and property damage. The clock starts ticking from the moment of the car accident. After this time period, court will deny to hear your case and you won't be able to recover any damages. Keep in mind that different types of claims have different time limits. Be sure to check other provisions of North Dakota statute of limitations.
Get Professional Help With Your North Dakota Car Accident Settlement
In addition to North Dakota's no-fault system, many other laws can come into play in a car accident case. Even if your case doesn't reach the trial phase, you should still consider contacting an experienced attorney to explore all of your legal options. Get started today by speaking with an experienced accident attorney in your area.