This article examines a few key North Dakota injury laws. These laws affect personal injury cases in the state, whether you're filing a lawsuit in court or negotiating a settlement with an insurance company.
North Dakota applies a law called a "statute of limitations" to personal injury cases filed in court. This law sets a time limit of six years to file a court case after an injury and two years to file a case after a wrongful death. These time limits typically start running on the date of the accident or injury.
Keeping track of North Dakota's deadlines for filing injury claims is crucial. If you miss the deadline, the court may refuse to hear your case at all, depriving you of the opportunity to get compensation for your injuries. Title 28, Ch. 1, Secs. 28-01-16 and 28-01-18 of the North Dakota Code contain the full text of North Dakota's statutes of limitation as they apply to personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Sometimes, you may file an injury claim against a person or company only to hear them argue that you are the one at fault. When fault is shared in a North Dakota injury case, state courts apply a "modified comparative fault" rule. This rule reduces your damages if you are less than 50 percent at fault, and it eliminates your right to recover any damages if you are 50 percent or more at fault.
Here's an example. Suppose that you are sitting at a red light one day, when you are rear-ended by another driver. At the time, one of your car's brake lights was not working. It's determined that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, and the other driver was 80 percent at fault. Your total damages are calculated at $1,000.
Because you were found to share some of the fault, North Dakota's modified comparative fault rule will apply. The rule reduces the damages you can collect by an amount equal to your percentage of the fault. Here, that's 20 percent, so you'll be able to collect $800, or $1,000 minus $200. If you had been assigned 50 percent or more of the fault, however, you would not have been allowed to collect any damages at all.
North Dakota courts are required by state law to apply the modified comparative fault rule whenever fault is shared. Insurance adjusters may also bring up the rule during negotiations, however, so it's wise to be prepared.
In car accident cases only, unless your injuries meet a "serious injury" threshold, you are required to make a personal injury claim against your own insurance, no matter who was at fault for the accident.
For more on how personal injury claims work after a car accident in a no-fault state, see this page on No-Fault Car Accident Injury Claims.
Like several states, North Dakota has laws that "cap," or limit, damages in personal injury cases. North Dakota places a cap of $500,000 on non-economic damages (also known as "pain and suffering" damages) in medical malpractice cases. In addition, any economic damages over $250,000 may be reviewed by the court to determine if they are "reasonable." Remember, this cap does not apply to all injury cases in North Dakota, only those stemming from medical malpractice.
There is no specific statute in North Dakota governing personal injury liability for dog bites. Owners will be held liable for injuries caused by their dog (or other animal) if the injured party can show that the owner “should have known” the animal was dangerous. This is known as the “one bite” rule.
Some injuries or accidents involve the potential liability of a government employee or agency. When a case involves the government in North Dakota, it follows a special set of rules.
To file an injury claim against the government in North Dakota, you have 180 days to give notice to the state's Risk Management Fund. You can learn more about injury claims that involve the government in our Injury Claims Against the Government section.
The North Dakota Century Code contains the full text of North Dakota laws governing personal injury claims. You may wish to start your research with Title 32: Judicial Remedies.