The laws you should know whether you’re the victim or perpetrator of a hit-and-run crash
This article provides a detailed overview of hit-and-run laws in North Dakota, covering everything from what constitutes a hit-and-run to various penalties based on the severity of the incident. It also guides readers through the insurance implications, rights of the victims, and legal options available for both victims and individuals facing charges.
Imagine driving home from a pleasant evening with friends, only to suddenly feel the jarring impact of another vehicle colliding with yours. Before you can even gather your thoughts, the other car speeds away, leaving you injured and stranded.
This nightmarish scenario is all too real for victims of hit-and-run accidents in North Dakota.
Understanding the laws surrounding hit-and-run accidents is crucial for victims seeking compensation. In this article, we’ll explore North Dakota’s hit-and-run laws, as well as what steps you should take to protect your rights following a hit-and-run crash.
What constitutes a hit-and-run in North Dakota?
North Dakota’s hit-and-run statutes can be found in North Dakota Century Code Sections 39-08-04 and 39-08-06.
Under the statutes, you must take three steps following a motor vehicle accident in North Dakota to avoid a hit-and-run charge:
- Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident (or as close to the scene as possible);
- Provide to the other driver your name and address, driver’s license number, and registration number; and
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone injured.
If you collide with an unoccupied vehicle, you must take the following steps:
- Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident;
- Locate the owner of the property or leave a written note providing your name and contact information; and
- Report the accident to the nearest police station.
If you fail to take these steps, the police can charge you with a hit-and-run.
Penalties for a hit-and-run in North Dakota
Penalties for a hit-and-run in North Dakota vary based on the severity of the incident:
|Maximum hit-and-run penalties in North Dakota|
|Type of accident||Classification||Imprisonment||Fine|
|Property-damage only||Class B misdemeanor||30 days||$1,500|
|Injury||Class A misdemeanor||360 days||$3,000|
|Serious injury||Class C felony||5 years||$10,000|
|Death||Class B felony||10 years||$20,000|
Beyond criminal penalties, offenders may face civil lawsuits for damages. Victims of a hit-and-run have the right to pursue compensation for:
- Economic damages represent the monetary losses caused by the crash, such as medical expenses and lost wages.
- Non-economic damages represent the non-monetary losses caused by the crash, such as pain and suffering.
- Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and are available in cases in which the defendant acted with actual malice.
Insurance implications of a hit-and-run crash
North Dakota law requires drivers to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which will provide insurance coverage to the victim of a hit-and-run crash.
If you're involved in a severe accident in North Dakota, you may have legal options beyond your insurance coverage. You can pursue a personal injury lawsuit if the accident resulted in significant injuries or if the other driver was grossly negligent.
It’s a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney to understand your specific rights and options if you don’t believe your insurance coverage will be sufficient.
What should I do if I fled the scene of an accident in North Dakota?
People commit hit-and-runs for all sorts of reasons. For example:
- The driver may panic
- The driver may be afraid to confront the victim
- The driver may not have a license
- The driver may not have proper insurance
- The driver may be intoxicated
- The driver may not realize they hit someone until after they get home
Regardless of the reasons, fleeing the scene of an accident is ALWAYS a bad decision. If you flee the scene of an accident, you should immediately call the nearest police station and provide notice of the accident, along with your contact information. Doing so might not save you from a hit-and-run charge, but it’s the right thing to do, and it may result in you receiving a lesser sentence than if law enforcement tracks you down.
North Dakota hit-and-run FAQs
Still have questions about hit-and-run accidents in North Dakota? Let’s see if we can get them answered:
Witnesses are encouraged but generally not required to report hit-and-run accidents. You can report the crash by calling the local police and providing details about the incident, including a description of the hit-and-run vehicle.
Victims should try to gather as much information as possible, including a description of the hit-and-run vehicle, photographs of the scene and damage, contact information of any witnesses, and a police report.
If you need to file a personal injury lawsuit against a hit-and-run driver to recover damages, you must do so within six years of the accident. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this statute of limitations, your claim may be forever barred.
Whatever you do, don’t chase the hit-and-run driver. Doing so puts you and other road users at risk.
Hit-and-run laws in North Dakota are designed to provide justice to victims and hold offenders accountable. Understanding the legal landscape is vital for both victims seeking redress and individuals facing charges. This overview serves as a starting point, but each case is unique. If you find yourself involved in a hit-and-run accident, consult a North Dakota personal injury attorney to understand your rights and options.