North Dakota Auto Accident Laws and Resources
From Fargo to Minot to Grand Forks, North Dakota has thousands of miles of roads to explore. You can see the geographic center of North America in North Dakota Rugby as well as the Drift Prairie and the Missouri Plateau. These roads are driven every year by 500,000 drivers who drive approximately 13,000 per year. In their travels, car accidents are common, even in a lightly populated state. If you are in an accident, you should know the rules and regulations of North Dakota, which are outlined below.
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Statistics and Notable Car Accident Lawsuits
North Dakota has a small population, but recent statistics indicate it is a dangerous place to drive. A university study found that it is one of the states with the highest chances of dying in a car accident. This rank was based upon the number of deaths in motor vehicle accidents to deaths from other causes in all states. This type of study shows that many of the most dangerous roads are in lightly populated states.
One of the reasons is that states that are lightly populated often have faster speed limits. North Dakota has a maximum speed limit of 75 MPH on some interstates, and 70 MPH on most four lane highways.
Another problem in the state is drinking and driving. Statistics from the NHTSA finds that North Dakota tops the nation in DUI deaths. In the state, 41% of traffic deaths are because of a drunk driver. Drunk driving in North Dakota accounts for 10.3 deaths per every 100,000 people. This is the highest figure in the US in per capita terms. The drunk driving death rate in the state rose by 64% over the last decade, as of 2012. This is the largest increase in the country. Also, 78% of offenders had a BAC at arrest of 0.15% or more; this is double the legal limit.
Interestingly, the state has a high number of alcohol related deaths, but a low number of DUI arrests; there were only 5730 such arrests in 2012. This is the 11th lowest in the country. Some critics charge that North Dakota law enforcement is more permissive about drunk driving.
North Dakota also has the third highest percentage in the country of minors consuming alcohol. With these kind of alarming numbers about drunk drivers, it is important for drivers and passengers in the state to be proactive about not drinking and driving. Also, be sure the person that is driving is sober.
A recent car accident in North Dakota that received extensive press was where a 19 year old bicyclist was hit and dragged by a car. The man’s name was Randy Bryson West and he died at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo in September 2017. The police reported he was riding his bike in the evening of September 19 when he was hit by an elderly driver in a BMW. Police said he was dragged under the BMW for a block before he stopped the vehicle. Apparently, the driver did not know he hit the biker until he stopped and pulled into a parking lot. Fargo firefighters needed to lift the car to get the bike and rider from under it.
As of late last year, no charges had been filed in the case; it is not clear also if the family will file a lawsuit against the driver and his insurance company.
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Auto Insurance Requirements in North Dakota
North Dakota requires all drivers to carry the following minimum insurance:
- $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
- $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
- $25,000 property damage liability
- $25,000/$50,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury
- $25,000/$50,000 underinsured motorist
- $150 per week/$30,000 maximum basic personal injury protection
You are not required in North Dakota to carry additional coverage including collision and comprehensive.
North Dakota Accident Settlement Taxes
If you get a personal injury settlement in North Dakota, odds are likely that you will not have to pay federal or state income tax on the money. But there are exceptions to the general rule.
The IRS states that your personal injury settlement related to any physical injury or illness is not taxable as income. This includes compensation that you receive for medical bills and pain and suffering. However, if you receive compensation only for mental pain and suffering, this is taxable as income in North Dakota and by the IRS.
If you get compensated for lost wages, this will be taxable as income as well; the thinking is that you are being compensated for income that would have been taxed when you worked for it, so it is taxable under state and federal law.
Next, punitive damages are taxable as income in all cases. This is money that you receive not for any injuries but simply to punish the defendant for reckless behavior. Further, if you get a settlement and you are paid any interest on the money, that will be taxable as well.
These are just general rules. If you have specific questions, it is worth the time and money to have your case reviewed by a tax expert.
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Negligence Laws in North Dakota
North Dakota follows a modified comparative fault rule. This means you do have the right to file for damages if you are hurt in a car accident. But if you are at fault, your damages will be reduced by your degree of fault. Also, if you are 50% or more at fault, you cannot recover damages at all. North Dakota courts are required by law to apply this rule when accident fault is shared between drivers. Insurance adjusters also will likely bring this up during negotiations, so you would be advised to have an attorney available.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in North Dakota
In North Dakota, you have six years to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit after an accident. You also have two years to file a case after a wrongful death. Note that the wrongful death case must be filed within two years of the death of the person. Any cases filed beyond these deadlines will not be recognized by the court or insurance company.
Other North Dakota Car Accident Laws
There are several pertinent laws to be aware of if you drive in North Dakota:
First, this state bans texting for all drivers. It has been found that texting and driving is dangerous and leads to many serious and fatal accidents. Second, the state bans the use of all cell phones for new drivers; this includes handheld and hands free phones. Third, as of 2013, the state doubled the jail time and tripled fines for drivers who are convicted of DUI. You will get at least a year in jail; a crash causing death brings at least a three year sentence. Repeat drunk drivers also must be in a 24/7 sobriety program for a year.
North Dakota has caps on damages for medical malpractice, but not for personal injury lawsuits.
North Dakota Car Accident Resources
When you are in a North Dakota car accident, it is a very stressful time. Please review the resources listed below to help you deal with the aftermath of the accident.
- One of the most important things to determine is what you could recover in a lawsuit or claim. Use the tools at Lawsuit Info Center to get a handle on how much you can recover.
- After a car accident, you could need to obtain a copy of a crash report. Use this form published by the North Dakota Department of Transportation.
- You are required to inform the North Dakota police if you are in an accident with death or serious injury, or if property damage exceeds $1000.
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