Fargo Hit-and-Run Accident Attorneys
Hit-and-Run Accidents in North Dakota
In North Dakota, people involved in motor vehicle accidents are required by law to stop and remain at the scene to provide identification and offer reasonable aid to others involved. Even in cases that only involve property damage, such as a motorist hitting a parked vehicle, drivers must stop and attempt to locate property owners and/or otherwise identify themselves. When motorists fail to stop and instead flee the scene of an accident, it is known as a “hit-and-run,” and it is a crime in North Dakota and elsewhere in the United States.
Unfortunately, the criminal nature of fleeing the scene of an accident does not stop people from committing hit-and-run accidents. For victims, being involved in such a collision can be extremely devastating. They may suffer serious, life-altering injuries and, to make matters worse, could face numerous challenges in recovering compensation for their damages.
At Maring Williams Law Office, we understand the complex nature of hit-and-run accidents, and we know how to help. From our office in Fargo, we provide personalized legal representation to car accident victims throughout Cass County and the surrounding areas. Our team is here to help you get back on your feet and understand your legal options for recovering compensation following a serious hit-and-run collision.
Why Do People Flee the Scene of a Car Accident?
Fleeing the scene of an accident isn’t just a crime; it is also unquestionably morally wrong. When people do not stop after causing accidents, they leave potential victims without any assistance in obtaining emergency medical attention or the information they may need to file a future claim. Despite this, many people commit hit-and-runs for a variety of reasons.
A person may flee the scene of an accident because they:
- Are fearful of the consequences of causing an accident
- Are panicking/in shock following the collision
- Do not have any auto insurance or do not have the proper insurance coverage
- Were committing a traffic violation, such as speeding or texting while driving
- Were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Were driving a stolen vehicle
- Are underage/do not have a driver’s license or permit
- Simply do not want to be caught
Regardless of the reason, fleeing the scene of a crash is never acceptable. If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident, you should report the crash to the police right away. Try to provide law enforcement with as many details as you can about the other driver and their vehicle, such as the vehicle’s color, make, model, year, and any identifying details, such as bumper stickers or the license plate number. You should also provide information regarding when and where the accident occurred, as well as what led up to the crash.
How Hit-and-Run Investigation Work
While every situation is different, law enforcement agencies typically follow several procedures when investigating hit-and-run accidents. First, these investigations begin when someone reports the incident to the police. If you are involved in a hit-and-run, call 911 or the local law enforcement office in your area and report the crash. Provide as many details as possible (as outlined above) when reporting the incident. The more information you can provide, the better able the police will be to locate the hit-and-run driver.
If you can safely gather evidence, do so. This might include talking to witnesses who saw what happened, taking pictures of the accident scene and/or your injuries, and obtaining video footage from nearby individuals or businesses.
When investigating the crash, the police will utilize all available facts in an effort to identify and locate the hit-and-run driver. Depending on the evidence, this may be more feasible in some cases than others. For example, if you or a witness was able to obtain the hit-and-run driver’s license plate number, it is more likely that the police will be able to identify the driver. Typically, law enforcement officials will come out to the scene of the crash to gather evidence and details relevant to the case, but the more information you are able to provide in your official accident report, the better.
Can You Claim Compensation for a Hit-and-Run?
In North Dakota, you can generally claim compensation after a hit-and-run accident. Because the state follows a no-fault car accident system, you may be entitled to compensation through your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP covers certain medical expenses and other monetary damages related to car accidents, but it does not provide coverage for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
In addition to at least $30,000 in PIP coverage, all North Dakota drivers are required to carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in the following amounts:
- $25,000 per person
- $50,000 per accident
While these amounts constitute the minimum amount in UM coverage, you may elect to add more coverage to your policy. You must also have underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage equal to your amount of UM coverage.
UM and UIM coverage are specifically in place to protect those injured by uninsured and underinsured motorists, as well as those injured by drivers who cannot be identified and, therefore, insurance coverage cannot be determined. In other words, if you are injured in a hit-and-run accident, you can file a UM claim with your auto insurance provider, even if the hit-and-run driver cannot be identified/located.
Filing a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawsuit
If the police are able to identify and locate the hit-and-run, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them and seek compensation for damages not covered under your PIP or UM insurance.
To do this, you will have to prove that you:
- Sustained more than $2,500 in “necessary and reasonable” medical expenses, or;
- Suffered “serious and permanent disfigurement or disability” lasting or expected to last more than 60 days
You may only step outside the state’s no-fault system and bring a claim against the hit-and-run driver if you can prove one or both of these things, and you can prove that the hit-and-run driver was to blame for the accident. If you were partly at fault for the accident, you may still file a claim for damages under North Dakota’s modified comparative negligence rule—but only if you were less than 50% to blame. If you are found to be less than 50% to blame, your total recovery will be reduced by your at-fault percentage. So, if you are found to be 25% to blame for the crash, you can only recover up to 75% of your total damages.
Why Hire a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer in Fargo?
North Dakota car accident laws are complex, and they become even more complicated in cases involving hit-and-runs. At Maring Williams Law Office, our hit-and-run accident attorneys in Fargo have extensive experience handling these types of cases, as well as successfully securing PIP and UM compensation for our clients. We are prepared to handle all of the legal details of your case, allowing you to focus on your physical and emotional recovery.
We provide free initial consultations and do not charge any fees unless/until we win your case. There is nothing to lose in speaking to a member of our legal team about your potential hit-and-run accident case.
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