North Dakota Car Accident Laws Staff Profile Picture
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More than 1,200 individuals have lost their lives on North Dakota roads over the past 10 years. According to the 2020 North Dakota Crash Summary, there were 8,820 car accidents in the state in 2020, resulting in 100 fatalities and 3,426 injuries. The numbers show that there were 14,221 accidents in 2019, a slight drop from the previous year. However, the number of deaths stayed about the same.

Compared to the national fatality rate of 1.37 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, North Dakota has a 1.14 fatality rate. As part of the Vision Zero plan, it has several laws and rules in place to make sure that all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on its roads are safe and to reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths caused by cars.

North Dakota Drunk Driving Law

Alcohol impacts about 41% of fatal crashes in the state annually. Under the North Dakota drunk driving law, it is illegal for a person to drive a motor vehicle or be in actual physical control of any vehicle if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Drivers under 21 have to follow a "zero-tolerance" policy, which says that they can't have any alcohol in their system while driving.

Penalties for drunk driving in North Dakota can be severe, particularly for repeat offenders. A first-time offender can face a fine of at least $500 and an order for an evaluation through a licensed addiction treatment program. Repeat offenders face even harsher penalties, including at least 10-day jail sentences, fines of up to $1,500, and at least 360 days of participation in a sobriety program. 

North Dakota also has a program called the 24/7 Sobriety Program, which requires repeat DUI offenders and individuals who have refused to submit to chemical testing to participate in twice-daily alcohol testing as a condition of their probation or parole. 

The law also includes provisions for drivers who refuse to submit to a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer or blood test, to determine their BAC. In these cases, the driver may face civil penalties like the revocation or suspension of their license.

North Dakota Hit-and-Run Law

North Dakota has established strict hit-and-run laws to deter individuals from leaving the scene of an accident and hold those who do so accountable for their actions.

Under North Dakota law, a driver involved in an accident that results in injury or death to another person or damage to property is required to stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident immediately. The driver must also provide their name, address, and vehicle registration number to any other parties involved in the accident and any law enforcement officers who arrive on the scene.

Suppose the driver cannot provide this information. In that case, they must report the accident to the nearest law enforcement agency as soon as possible but no later than 24 hours after the accident if it results in property damage exceeding $1,000, death, or injury. Failure to comply with these requirements is a felony.

Accidents Involving Deaths or Personal Injury

Section 39-08-04 of the North Dakota Century Code mandates that any driver involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of another person must immediately stop and remain at the scene. They must provide their name, address, and vehicle registration number to the other parties involved in the accident and any law enforcement officers who arrive on the scene. 

Any driver who fails to comply with these regulations in car accident cases involving personal injury is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. A person negligently failing to comply in cases involving serious personal injury or death can face much harsher penalties, including a class C or B felony, respectively. Additionally, anyone convicted under this section may have their license or permit to drive or their nonresident-operating privileges revoked.

Accidents Involving Property Damage

Based on the requirements provided by ND Code 39-08-05, the driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting only in property damage should stop their vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close to it as possible. The driver must remain at the location of the crash until they have provided their name, address, and vehicle registration number to the other parties involved in the accident, as well as any law enforcement officers who arrive on the scene. Any person failing to comply with the requirements of this section is guilty of a class B misdemeanor. 

North Dakota Speeding Law

North Dakota's speeding restrictions law prohibits driving a vehicle on a highway over the posted speed limit or at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under current conditions.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) has established absolute speed limits in various zones throughout the state. These limits include 75 mph on access-controlled, paved, and divided multilane interstate highways; 70 mph on paved and divided multilane highways; 65 mph on paved two-lane highways if posted for that speed; 55 mph on gravel, dirt, or loose surface highways; and 55 mph on paved two-lane county and township highways if there is no posted speed limit. Speed limits also vary in certain zones, such as 25 mph in business districts, residence districts, and public parks, and 20 mph in school zones and certain circumstances with limited visibility. All speed limits are normally posted for drivers to see.

Drivers who violate North Dakota's speeding laws may be subject to fines, points on their driving record, and other penalties. For example, a driver who exceeds the speed limit by 10 mph or less may be subject to a fine of up to $20, while a driver who exceeds the speed limit by more than 20 mph may be subject to a penalty of up to $100 and four points on their driving record. In addition, drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 25 mph may be charged with reckless driving, a criminal offense in North Dakota.

North Dakota Safety Belt Laws

North Dakota has enacted safety belt laws requiring all vehicle occupants to wear seat belts while in motion. These laws apply to all passengers in the front seat of a car and all passengers under the age of 18, regardless of their seating position in the vehicle. The driver is responsible for ensuring that all passengers are properly buckled up before driving the vehicle.

Drivers who violate these laws may be fined $20 for adults over 18 and $25 for those under 18. The safety belt law may impact driving records if any minor is improperly restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat. 

Child Restraint Laws

Child restraint guidelines for North Dakota require children to ride rear-facing until at least 2 years old, using infant or convertible car seats within their weight and size limits. After that, they may switch to a forward-facing car seat with a harness, adhering to the manufacturer's size limits, which can accommodate 40-100 pounds.

Children between the ages of 4 and 8 must be secured in a booster seat, a forward-facing child restraint system, or a child restraint system equipped with a five-point harness. However, children 57 inches tall and above may use a seat belt. It is important to note that this law does not apply to emergencies.

The child restraint system must be properly installed according to the manufacturer's instructions and meet federal child restraint standards. If a driver violates child restraint laws, they may be subject to a $25 fine, one point against their driver’s license for the first offense, and up to $50 for a subsequent offense.

North Dakota Distracted Driving Law

In 2020, 1,066 distracted driving violations were posted to the North Dakota Driver’s License system. North Dakota has a law against distracted driving, which says that drivers can't do anything that would take their attention away from driving safely. This includes using electronic devices like cell phones and tablets while operating any vehicle.

The law specifically prohibits drivers from using a cell phone or other electronic communications devices to write, send, or read text messages or emails while driving. Those found violating this law may be fined $100. Drivers aged 14 to 15 will receive 4 points on their record and be fined $20, while those aged 16 to 17 will pay the same fines without any demerit points. 

The law against driving while distracted was recently expanded to include any distraction that makes it harder for a driver to drive safely. Some examples of distracted driving are selecting music or changing the radio station, waving to people on the road, eating, using a GPS, grooming, and interacting with passengers. 

North Dakota Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements

North Dakota law requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage to operate a motor vehicle legally. The state's minimum requirements include liability, uninsured/underinsured, and basic no-fault coverage.

The coverages and minimum limits are:

  • Bodily injury liability of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, which provides protection in the event of an accident where the driver has caused bodily injury to another person while operating a vehicle. 

  • Property damage liability of $25,000 per accident covers claims for damage caused to another party’s property while operating a vehicle. It also protects from the costs of damage to rental cars used short-term for personal use. 

  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, which protects drivers if they are involved in an accident with another driver who either does not have insurance or has insufficient insurance coverage to compensate for the accident’s losses or injuries. 

  • Basic no-fault insurance or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) of $30,000 per person covers economic loss, like medical expenses and work loss, as a result of an accidental injury without regard to fault. 

Drivers may also choose to carry additional types of insurance beyond the state's minimum requirements, such as GAP, death and dismemberment, towing reimbursement, and collision or comprehensive coverage. These policies provide additional financial protection for accidents and incidents, including theft, vandalism, or damage caused by severe weather conditions.

North Dakota Is a No-Fault State for Insurance Claims

North Dakota is a no-fault insurance state, which means that in the event of an accident, each driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying its policyholder's medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who caused the accident. 

The no-fault system is governed by Chapter 26.1-41 of the North Dakota Century Code. Under this law, every driver must carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. PIP coverage provides benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and other related expenses for the driver and any passengers in their vehicle, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

However, it's important to note that North Dakota's no-fault system does not completely eliminate the possibility of liability claims, including in cases where the accident results in serious injury, death, or permanent disfigurement or disability that lasts over 60 days. 

The judge or jury determines the amount of compensation based on past and future economic and non-economic losses.

North Dakota Is a Modified Comparative State for Car Accident Lawsuits

North Dakota follows a modified comparative fault rule for car accident lawsuits. This means that a plaintiff's recovery in a suit for injuries or property damage caused by a car accident is reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault for an accident and their losses are determined to be $100,000, they will only recover $80,000. Additionally, North Dakota uses a 50% bar rule, which means that a plaintiff cannot recover damages if they are found 50% or more at fault for the accident.

North Dakota Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

The statute of limitations for personal injury claims related to car accidents in North Dakota is six years. This means that those injured in a car accident have up to six years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.

Claims against a government entity, such as a state or local government agency, must be made within 180 days of the accident, and those who fail to do so may lose their right to sue.

It's important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help explain the applicable statutes of limitations and other laws that may impact a case.

Average Settlement for North Dakota Car Accident Lawsuits

There is no law in North Dakota that sets a specific amount for car accident settlements, which are typically negotiated between the parties involved in the case. A settlement award can be affected by things like how bad the injuries are, how much damage was done to the property, and how much each party is to blame.

Car accident attorneys in the state typically work for a contingency fee, which means lawyers collect their payment based on a percentage of the compensation they can get the victim. It may also vary depending on the specific guidelines and quality of services.

Legal Resources for North Dakota Car Accident Victims

North Dakota Volunteer Lawyers Program

This is an online resource created by the State Bar Association of North Dakota. It connects low-income car accident victims who need legal assistance with volunteer attorneys willing to provide free legal services. It provides information for crash victims seeking assistance, including eligibility requirements and a list of legal issues the volunteer lawyers can address. 

  • Contact details: (701) 255 1404

  • Centralized Intake Office: 1-800-634-5263

Legal Services of North Dakota

This is an online portal created by a nonprofit organization for qualifying individuals who have been injured in car accidents. It helps low-income and elderly individuals with various legal issues related to car accidents, including negotiating with insurance companies, filing lawsuits, and obtaining compensation for medical bills and other damages.

  • Contact details for individuals under age 60: 1-800-634-5263

  • Contact details for individuals aged 60 and older: 1-866-621-9886

North Dakota Crash Reports

This is an online portal by the North Dakota Department of Transportation where individuals involved in car accidents may obtain a copy of the crash report to file a lawsuit or for insurance purposes. The crash report includes detailed information about the accident, including the date, time, and location; the drivers' and passengers' names and contact information; a description of the vehicles and property damage; and any citations or charges that were issued as a result of the accident.

  • Contact details: (701) 328 2500 or 1-855-NDROADS (637-6237)

North Dakota Insurance Department Website

This is an online resource about auto insurance and other types of insurance in the state. It provides resources and assistance to consumers with questions or concerns about their insurance policies or coverage.

  • Contact details: (701) 328-2440 or

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