What To Do After A Car Accident in Fargo, North Dakota

More than 4.6 million collision injuries and 40,000 fatalities are recorded annually in the United States, despite the fact that modern automobiles are equipped with the newest safety equipment.


More cars on the road means gridlock isn’t limited to major metropolitan areas anymore. With traffic increasing everywhere, even in the most remote areas, it’s no wonder that the typical American motorist will be involved in three or four collisions over the course of their lifetime.


More than 12,000 people are injured each year due to the approximately 35,000 vehicle accidents that occur on Nebraska roads, and North Dakota is not immune to this growing trend.


Sometimes, unexpected car accidents occur. Even on a route you’re quite familiar with, a car accident might leave you dazed.


You deserve full and fair compensation for your suffering after an accident. Developing a solid insurance claim is the first step in receiving the cash payment you are due.

Car Accidents in North Dakota: What You Need to Know

Unfortunately, automobile accidents are inevitable; but if you know what to do and say (and more significantly, what not to do and say) in the aftermath of an accident, you will be better equipped to make a good insurance claim.


The most common concerns and issues that arise following an auto accident are addressed in this comprehensive guide, which details the 10 stages to take to construct a solid insurance claim.

Step 1. Stop completely and call 911


Those involved in vehicle accidents in North Dakota are obligated by law to pull over as near to the site as is safe and does not impede traffic.

See if anyone is hurt, then contact emergency services by dialing 911. Do what you can to assist the injured until medical help comes.


What should I tell the 911 operator?


If you are involved in an automobile collision in North Dakota with another inhabited vehicle, you must provide the following information with the other driver regardless of whether there were injuries:


  • Calling card info
  • Details about obtaining insurance
  • Data on vehicle registrations

If the other driver or passengers asks to see your license, you must provide them with a copy.


Tell the 911 operator where you are, how many people are hurt, and what has happened so far.


Provide more detail about your location. You should inform the dispatcher of the cross streets if you are at one. Try to locate the next mile marker or exit if you’re driving. Identify any obvious landmarks in the area.


If you or someone else is hurt or ill, call the operator immediately. Alert the operator if you see someone trapped in a vehicle or believe they may have been killed.


The driver must be aware of any potential threats in the area of the accident site, such as flipped automobiles, fire, traffic jams, leaking gas, or broken electrical lines.


What if anybody gets hurt?


Drivers in North Dakota are obligated to help accident victims in any way they can, and that includes getting them to a hospital if they need it.


You should assist the wounded as much as possible until medical professionals arrive. No one can sue you if you offer to help in an emergency and provide first aid without being paid.


But what if I get hurt?


Your wounds and broken bones may be glaringly evident. However, not all severe wounds present obvious symptoms. Serious, even fatal injuries, such as internal bleeding or closed head trauma, may not manifest themselves until hours or days after a car crash. Some injuries may not show any signs at all because of shock or anxiety.


In the event of an accident, you should never refuse medical help. Not now is the time to put up a brave front. Tell emergency personnel about any symptoms you’re having, no matter how little. Allow the paramedics to take you to the hospital if that is where they feel you need to go.


Make sure you get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after an accident, even if you aren’t brought there immediately. Visit an urgent care facility or emergency room if your regular doctor is unavailable.


The validity of your insurance claim will be severely hampered if you refuse or postpone medical attention following an automobile accident and the insurance company later claims that your injuries are unrelated to the collision.


The driver of a parked automobile isn’t around; what should I do?


You must come to a complete stop if your car strikes a parked and unoccupied vehicle. Find the car’s driver or owner and advise them of your contact details, as well as your insurance and registration.


If you are unable to locate the owner of the damaged vehicle, a note can be left with your contact information and an explanation of what occurred.


What if I have damaged a property other than a car?


You must make a reasonable attempt to find the owner of any non-vehicular property you damage, such as a fence or a telephone pole, and provide them with your contact details and proof of insurance.

Step 2. Notify the Authorities of the Incident


How soon do I need to notify the authorities?


In the event of an accident that causes bodily injury, death, or property damage estimated to be worth $1,000 or more, you must promptly notify the police.


If you hit a wild animal like a deer and there are no other cars involved, you do not have to report the incident to the police, regardless of how badly your automobile was damaged.


What if I get hurt and unable to report it?


If you’re hurt and can’t reach the phone, your passenger should call the police to report the incident.


If you were not the car’s owner at the time of the accident and you or your passengers are unable to report the accident due to injuries, the car’s owner is responsible for filing a report within five days.

Step 3. Policing the Scene of an Accident

In most cases, police will be called to an accident scene if there are reports of injuries, potential dangers, or significant property damage.


It’s possible that the cops won’t show up to deal with a small collision in a high-traffic area.


The police at the site of the collision will do what?


Officers in the police force receive education in accident management and forensics. The police can guard the area, regulate traffic, collect evidence, write tickets, and more.


Can I insist that the police officer hear my side of the story?


Even though you have the right to communicate with law enforcement, the officer who is looking into the incident is under no obligation to listen to you. Until the police tell you otherwise, you must remain at the site.


If approached by law enforcement, do not dispute. Shouting or making threatening words might delay the investigation of the accident and could even result in your arrest.


Should I cooperate with the police if they ask me questions?


You must provide the investigating officer with your name, address, driver’s license number, and proof of insurance if requested. You should not, however, answer any queries that might lead to criminal charges being filed against you.


And what if the cops stop me and issue a ticket?


The investigating officer may give you a traffic citation if he or she finds that you broke North Dakota’s traffic regulations. You can try to convince the officer not to issue a ticket, but you should pay any fine that is given to you.


When you sign a traffic ticket, it’s not an admission of guilt. Please take any dispute with the issuance of a traffic citation to the appropriate venue, and not the scene of the ensuing collision.


Step 4. Evidence Collection at the Accident Scene


Changes occur quickly at accident sites. Tow truck drivers collect vehicles, and everyone goes their own ways. They could sneak off with crucial proof. To recover damages after an accident that wasn’t your fault, you’ll need to show that the other party was negligent.


As soon as possible after an accident, start gathering the proof you’ll need to file a successful insurance claim.


Damages are defined as what?


The worth of your vehicle, the cost of repairs, the cost of a rental automobile if you need one, the cost of replacing any personal goods that were destroyed, and the value of your vehicle if it was a total loss are all examples of property damages.


Damages for personal injuries can include things like medical care (medical, dental, chiropractic, mental health), medicines, mobility aids like wheelchairs and crutches, therapy, lost wages, and replacement services, as well as pain and suffering.


May you suggest a question I can ask the other motorist?


Those operating motor vehicles must provide identifying details such as their full names, addresses, vehicle registration numbers, and insurance policy numbers. Get the name and number of the car’s owner if the driver doesn’t own the vehicle that hit you.


Can I snap pictures and record videos?


Take as many pictures and movies as you can using your phone, camera, iPad, or whatever else you have on you. It’s best to acquire a variety of shots from different locations around the scene.


Having access to photographs and videos of the site of an accident can provide crucial information. Photographs or videos may show the drivers’ and passengers’ actions just before an accident, which might provide light on suspected causes such as impairment or distraction.


Photos and videos taken at the scene of an accident may be powerful pieces of evidence that prevent witnesses from giving conflicting statements later on.


What about witnesses?


Potential witnesses are not required to communicate with you, but you should talk to them for as long as possible to see whether they observed anything that might aid your case. In particular, this is relevant if they are prepared to blame the other motorist and explain why. So long as the witness is willing to help, you should get their name, contact information, and a summary of what they saw in writing. Get the witness’s signature and the date on the statement.


Is there anything more I can bring up to back up my case?


Additional evidence that can be used to support an insurance claim are as follows:

Vehicles involved:

Vehicle details including manufacturer, model year, license plate number, expiration date, and VIN. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is often located in one of three places: the left-hand corner of the dashboard, next to the windshield; the driver’s insurance card; or the driver-side door jamb. Please don’t get out of your car and into the other one without asking.


Gather the names, ages, and phone numbers of all passengers. Although passengers are not obligated to provide you with any information, you should nonetheless take careful notes about the number of passengers, their ages, their appearance, and anything they may have said or done.


You should sketch out a graphic of the crash site, detailing the placement of each car both before and after the collision. Please specify which way each automobile was traveling. Road conditions, timing, traffic, weather, and everything else that may have played a role in the accident should all be noted.

Keep extra copies of the paperwork and a pen in the glove compartment, besides your registration and insurance documents. You will always have the resources at your disposal to collect the data necessary to file a solid insurance claim.

Step 5. Get in touch with Your Insurance Provider


A Notice of Occurrence and Cooperation provision is standard in American vehicle insurance contracts. You also agree to cooperate with the insurance company’s investigation of the accident after reporting it to them.


You can expect to see wording like this in your policy’s clause:


It states, “Insured (you) agrees to notify Insurer (your insurance company) of any accidents and, thereafter, comply with all information, assistance, and cooperation which Insurer reasonably requests, and agrees that Insurer and Insured will do nothing that shall prejudice Insurer’s position in the event of a claim.”


If the accident wasn’t my fault, then what?


You and your vehicle insurer have entered into a legally binding agreement known as your policy. Notifying the insurance company of an accident is your responsibility under the policy. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault and nobody was wounded, you are still required to report it to your insurance carrier.


It’s in everyone’s best interest to report accidents to their insurance providers. You can expect that the other motorist will call your insurance company to demand payment if they decide to sue you, start making claims, or employ an attorney. If you haven’t previously told your insurance company of the collision, they are at a severe disadvantage.


If you don’t tell your insurer about an accident, they may raise your rates, refuse to renew your policy, or even cancel your coverage altogether.


What kinds of insurance claim mobile apps are available?


You can get your vehicle accident claim underway in a flash with one of the many insurance claim applications available for both iOS and Android smartphones.


With an app, you can:


  • Collect data from motorists, passengers, and eyewitnesses
  • Make recordings and stills
  • Make some graphics to help you visualize the situation
  • Use GPS coordinates to pinpoint your exact position
  • The accident can be reported to your insurance carrier using the app


Listed below are many no-cost mobile applications for documenting accidents. It’s possible that your insurance provider offers an app like the following:


Allstate Mobile

Google Accident Report


State Farm


Step 6. No-Fault Insurance in North Dakota


No-fault insurance is used in the state of North Dakota. After an accident, each motorist is responsible for their own medical costs, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost earnings under the no-fault system. Expenses related to mental anguish are not covered under no-fault policies.


What types of insurance must North Dakota drivers carry?


Vehicles in the state of North Dakota must be covered by at least the following types of insurance in order to be registered:


Coverage on liability: Bodily injury liability coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident and property damage liability coverage of at least $25,000 per accident are required for liability insurance.


When an accident happens, and you are found to be at blame, other people may file a claim against you for damages, and this is where liability insurance comes in.


Coverage on uninsured motorists: For bodily harm caused by an uninsured driver, the minimum required limits are $25,000 per injured party and $50,000 per accident.


If you are hurt in a car accident, and the other driver doesn’t have insurance, your medical bills will be covered by your uninsured motorist policy. The physical damage to your car is not covered by this policy.


Coverage on underinsured motorists: Coverage for drivers who are underinsured must be at least as high as that for drivers who are not insured at all.


If you are injured by a driver whose liability insurance limits are lower than your own underinsured motorist coverage, you will be compensated for your losses.


Basic no-fault: Minimum required no-fault insurance coverage is $30,000 per person, often known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Regardless of who was at blame in a car accident, victims of injuries are compensated under basic no-fault policies.


In what circumstances may I file a lawsuit against the negligent driver?


In the event of an auto accident in North Dakota, the injured party is responsible for covering their own medical costs, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost income before seeking compensation from the at-fault party.


However, if your medical bills total more than $2,500 or if your injuries have left you with a “severe and permanent deformity or handicap” that will last more than 60 days, you can file a claim against the at-fault motorist or their insurance company.


The property damage exception to North Dakota’s no-fault law does not apply to personal injury claims. Property damage claims can be made to an at-fault driver’s insurance company or litigated in court.

Step 7. Know More About Modified Comparative Negligence


What does “comparative negligence” entail?


Each driver’s share of the financial liability for an accident is calculated using North Dakota’s Modified Comparative Fault rule.


If you’ve been in an auto accident in North Dakota, and the other motorist was at least partially to blame, you can sue them for damages. No financial compensation may be obtained from the other motorist or their insurance company if you were equally responsible for the accident.


Is it necessary for me to confess that I caused the accident?


While it’s commendable to be forthright, taking responsibility for an accident is never a good idea. You don’t have enough information to determine the cause and liability in an automobile accident because of the sheer number of elements involved.


You won’t know if the other motorist made any mistakes or omissions that contributed to the incident until the investigation is complete.


Keep in mind that if the other motorist is determined to be partially at fault, they may not be able to collect as much in damages from you or your insurer.


To what extent do I become liable under the doctrine of comparative negligence?


If you were somewhat to blame for the accident, the amount of compensation you may receive would be decreased. Your insurance provider will determine how much responsibility you bear for the mishap. Consulting a personal injury attorney may be necessary if you disagree with the insurance company’s perspective.


An illustration of the impact of comparative negligence on a settlement:


When we last left Sammy, he was making his way west on Canyon Road to pick up his son from daycare. He was informing his wife through SMS that he would be late.


Rebecca, in the meantime, was traveling north on Park Street in her car on her way home from school. She raced past the junction of Park and Canyon as the yellow light turned red.


As Rebecca approached the crosswalk, the light abruptly changed to red. She ran into the side of Sammy’s car, sending him flying and leaving him with critical injuries.


Sammy filed a personal injury lawsuit for $100,000 to compensate for his injuries, loss of income, and emotional distress. The insurance company for Rebecca’s car said that Sammy might have avoided the collision if he hadn’t been texting, therefore they wouldn’t pay more than $50,000.


Sammy took Rebecca to court with the help of his lawyer.


At trial, it was shown that Rebecca was at fault for the collision because she had run a red light. Evidence indicating Sammy was texting at the time of the crash was also presented to the jury.


The jury found that Sammy’s claim for personal injuries was worth $100,000, but also found that he was 20% to blame for the accident since he was texting while driving. Rebecca’s failure to stop at the signal was 80% responsible for the collision.


Under North Dakota’s comparative negligence rule, Sammy was given $80,000 (80%) of his damage claim, a decrease of $20,000 (20%) for his share of culpability, because Rebecca was more at fault for the car accident.


Sammy’s injuries may not have been compensated by the court if the jury found him to be 50% or more at fault.

Step 8. Choose to Work with a Lawyer


I’m not sure if I need an attorney; could you help me decide?


You may be able to handle the settlement of your own personal injury claim. There are other types of claims, however, that require the expertise of an attorney to convince the insurance company to pay what the claim is actually worth.


Before going it alone against the insurance company, you should evaluate the extent of your injuries and the resources you will need to secure compensation.


Bumps, bruises, strains, sprains, whiplash, and other related ailments fall under the category of “soft tissue.” Medical, chiropractic, or physical therapy costs, partial salary loss, and little pain and suffering are the typical compensation for soft tissue injuries.


Settlements for soft-tissue injuries are typically simple and can be reached even without legal representation.


Amputations, numerous fractures, internal hemorrhage, closed head trauma, paralysis, and similar severe, and sometimes permanently crippling, traumas are examples of “hard” injuries.


Claims involving serious injuries are tricky. Expert medical evidence, subpoenas for records, interrogatories, actuarial analyses, and other measures may be necessary to convince the insurance company to pay the full value of your claim after suffering serious injuries.


If you’ve suffered a serious injury, you should not attempt to handle the claim on your own.


Insurance companies will take every measure necessary to reduce the likelihood of having to pay out substantial claims. Don’t trust the adjuster who says you won’t need an attorney since your hard injury claim isn’t worth hiring one for. Once they make their “last offer,” you probably won’t have the resources to fight back. That is their hoped-for outcome. Insurance companies frequently provide less in settlement to claimants who do not have legal representation.


Your pain and suffering are worth more than what the insurance company is willing to offer, and only a skilled personal injury attorney can convince them of that.


How much do legal services cost?


To speak with a personal injury lawyer at their office, you shouldn’t have to worry about paying anything.


Gather your medical records, the report of the accident, statements from any witnesses, and documentation of your interactions with the insurance company before your initial consultation with an attorney.


The lawyer is going to hear you out and look through your paperwork. After reviewing the evidence, the attorney will explain the potential worth of your claim, the length of time it may take to reach a settlement, and whether or not legal action is necessary.


Lawyers that specialize in personal injury cases typically work on a contingency fee basis, which means they get paid no matter how much money you win in court or from an insurance company.


Fees on a contingency basis are typically between 25% and 40% of the total amount you get in a settlement or jury award. No fees will be due if your attorney is unable to negotiate a satisfactory settlement or successfully represent you in court.

Step 9. Small Claims Court in North Dakota


What is the maximum amount that may be claimed in North Dakota’s small claims court?


By statute, claims in the state of North Dakota up to the amount of $15,000 must be heard in a Small Claims Court.


The District Court in North Dakota includes a Small Claims Court. The purpose of the Small Claims Court is to allow laypeople to bring their own claims before the judge without hiring an expensive lawyer.


When these conditions apply, filing a small claims lawsuit can be the best course of action:


  • The insurance company for the careless motorist makes a pitiful settlement offer.
  • Your claim was rejected by the insurance company for the negligent driver.
  • Without a retainer, an attorney will not take your case.


Who should I file a lawsuit against, the negligent motorist or his or her insurance provider?


You can sue the at-fault motorist directly, not their insurance company, in small claims court if you choose to.


Can you tell me more about the North Dakota Small Claims Court?


Check out the North Dakota Legal Self-Help Center’s Small Claims Information page for further details.


Step 10. Keep in mind that there may be a time limit on filing a claim.


The date by which an automobile accident victim must make a claim with their insurance company or sue the motorist who caused the accident is known as the statute of limitations.


You cannot file a lawsuit against the negligent motorist or the driver’s insurance company after the statute of limitations period has expired.


If you were hurt in North Dakota, how long do you have to file a claim for damages before the case is permanently closed?


There is a six (6) year time restriction on filing claims for damages in North Dakota. The clock starts ticking on the day of the accident.


What if the insurance company won’t assist me?


After the statute of limitations has passed, the insurance company is under no duty to negotiate a settlement of your claim. Time is running out, so you need to act quickly if you want to keep your claim alive.


You shouldn’t take the chance of losing your claim. Do not wait until the statute of limitations expires to take steps to defend your claim if you do not have a written settlement agreement. Insurance companies cannot “extend” the statute of limitations even if an adjuster says they can. If your claim is not resolved and you do not file suit against their insured by the deadline, they will know what to do.


You can’t blame the insurance company if you don’t sue the negligent motorist within six years after the collision.


Don’t be scared to sue the careless motorist who caused your accident. Actually, you shouldn’t put off hiring a lawyer for your personal injury case for years. The insurance company will get the message that they need to bring real money to the table and the statute of limitations will be paused if a lawsuit is filed.


Your lawyer will keep talking to the insurer even after the lawsuit has been filed. Before a matter goes to trial, attorneys may typically negotiate a satisfactory settlement.


For your North Dakota vehicle accident, the statute of limitations is a crucial date to remember. Put reminders on your phone’s calendar or on a physical calendar, or do both.


Talk to a lawyer if you haven’t heard back from the insurance company after a year, or if the deadline is approaching. Your claim may be lost if you wait until the final minute to take action.

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