In North Dakota, you're required to maintain certain minimum levels of car insurance coverage on any vehicle you register and operate in the state. Here's what to know at the outset:
Yes. North Dakota is one of a dozen or so states that have legislated some form of a "no-fault" car insurance system. That means, after a car accident, your own basic no-fault (also called "personal injury protection" or "PIP") coverage pays for your medical bills and certain other out-of-pocket losses, regardless of who caused the accident.
In North Dakota, PIP benefits are available to anyone covered under the policy (directly or indirectly), including:
When a no-fault/PIP claim is filed by a covered individual after a car accident in North Dakota, that person is entitled to up to $30,000 to cover "economic losses" arising from the crash, including:
A key thing to understand about a no-fault/PIP claim is that you can't get compensation for your "pain and suffering" and other non-monetary damages stemming from the accident. You're limited to compensation for your medical bills and other economic losses.
In order to step outside of the no-fault system and file a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver (so that "pain and suffering" and other non-economic losses are compensable) your injuries must meet certain thresholds set by state law (we'll look at North Dakota's thresholds a little later).
No. No-fault/PIP only applies to injuries caused by car accidents, and certain out-of-pocket losses stemming from those injuries. It has no bearing on vehicle damage claims. You can hold the at-fault driver liable for damage to (or total loss of) a vehicle after a car accident in North Dakota, with no limitations.
As touched on above, in order to step outside of North Dakota's no-fault car insurance system and pursue a case directly against the driver who caused the underlying accident, your claim must meet the thresholds set by state law. That means, as a result of the car accident:
If you meet one or both of these requirements, you have the right to hold the at-fault driver responsible for the accident by filing a third-party car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, and that means you can pursue compensation for all categories of losses, including pain and suffering and all other available non-economic damages (which, again, aren't available in a no-fault/PIP claim).
Now that you understand how no-fault car insurance works in North Dakota, let's look at the state's requirements for different kinds of car insurance coverage.
In order to register and drive a motor vehicle in North Dakota, you must carry certain minimum amounts of insurance on it. According to the North Dakota Insurance Department, those minimums are as follows.
Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person (the maximum amount payable to one person)/$50,000 per accident (the maximum amount payable to all people injured) in an accident caused by you.
Property damage liability: $25,000 per accident for vehicle damage and other property loss in an accident caused by you (does not cover damage to your vehicle).
Uninsured motorist coverage: $25,000 per person/ $50,000 per accident. (Underinsured motorist coverage must be equal to the uninsured motorist coverage amount). Learn more about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Basic no-fault/PIP: $30,000 per person.
Keep in mind that, if you're found responsible for causing a car accident, and the injured drivers' and/or passengers' losses exceed the limits of your car insurance policy, you may find yourself personally responsible for making up the difference out of your own assets. Learn more about what happens if you're in a car accident and you're uninsured.
Driving without liability insurance is a crime (classified as a class B misdemeanor in North Dakota), punishable by a fine of at least $150. If you're caught driving without insurance you'll probably also need to file an SR-22 with the State Drivers License Division of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. This document shows proof of your financial responsibility if you end up causing an accident.
Another penalty for driving without insurance in North Dakota relates to the legal remedies available to you if you're injured in a car accident.
North Dakota's "no pay, no play" law says that if you're injured in an accident while you're driving without insurance, you're barred from recovering "non-economic" damages from the at-fault driver if you have at least one past conviction for uninsured driving. (North Dakota Century Code section 26.1-41-20.)
Since non-economic damages include your physical and mental "pain and suffering," it's a big deal to have this kind of compensation taken off the table, especially if your injuries are serious.
Get more details on car insurance from the North Dakota Insurance Department. You can also get more basic information on car insurance and the claim process here:
If you've been involved in a car accident, especially if your injuries are serious, you might need help that's tailored to your specific situation. Learn more about how an attorney can help with your car accident case.