Will the Other Driver's ND Car Insurance Co. Cover All My Damages?
In North Dakota, like many states, the process of recovering damage expenses after a crash can get complicated. The Peace Garden State has a legal provision called several liability, which means multiple parties can share fault for a crash, with appropriate percentages of fault assigned to each driver. And an ND motorist's percentage of fault and size of damages will have a direct effect on the recovery amount. In the end, a North Dakotan may end up having 100 percent of his or her damages covered, but only under certain circumstances.
ND's Modified Comparative Fault System
While "modified comparative fault" may seem like a scary legal term, all it basically means is that if a driver's level of fault is equal to or larger than that of the other driver(s) in an accident, he or she will not get compensation from the other drivers' insurance providers.
So if two drivers are, for example, both reading text messages while driving, and they crash and are each found to be 50 percent at-fault, neither would get anything from the other driver's North Dakota car insurance company, since neither was more responsible for the crash than the other.
But say that Driver A and Driver B crash, with Driver A being 60 percent at-fault and Driver B being 40 percent at-fault. Driver A would not receive anything-since his level of fault is exceeds 50 percent-but Driver B could recover some damages.
Limitations on Compensation
There's one catch, though. Unless the accident falls under an exception to the law (which will be discussed in the next section), Driver B is not entitled to recover 100 percent of his damages. That's because he was still 40 percent at-fault for the crash.
What the law says is a motorist will have his or her damages reduced by his percentage of fault, meaning that in this case Driver B can only receive compensation for 60 percent of his total damages. So if the crash ruined his car and caused a total of $11,000 in direct and indirect property damages, he would be able to get an insurance payment from the other driver's carrier for only $6,600.
If Driver B has collision insurance coverage, he would have the option of filing a claim under that portion of his policy for the remaining damages.
Exception to Compensation Limitations
According to North Dakota law, drivers who are eligible for reimbursement from other drivers but are still partially at-fault could still recover 100 percent of their physical damages if the accident meets certain criteria.
In order to qualify for this exception, the person who bears the largest portion of fault must be more than 50 percent at-fault, the claimant's direct physical damages must be $5,000 or less and his or her indirect physical damages must not exceed $1,000.
ND regulators say that direct physical damage means the actual cost of repairs, while indirect physical damages are things like the cost of a rental car and storage and the loss of value that resulted from the crash.