The statute of limitations for a car accident in North Dakota typically provides six years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for injuries or damages.
Some exceptions may shorten or lengthen this timeframe, so consult an North Dakota car accident attorney as soon as possible after suffering injuries in a car accident. That way you don't miss any important deadlines.
What Are the Exceptions to North Dakota’s Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents?
While the standard statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including car accidents, in North Dakota is six years, exceptions and variations can apply, based on the specific circumstances of a case. Some exceptions and considerations that may affect the statute of limitations in North Dakota include:
In some cases, the statute of limitations may not begin running until the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury. This rule may apply when injuries from the car accident do not immediately manifest, such as latent medical conditions.
If the injured party is a minor at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations may toll (postpone) until they reach 18. However, the deadline cannot extended for more than one year after the child’s 18th birthday.
If a car accident involves a government entity or employee, different rules and deadlines usually apply. North Dakota sets a three-year statute of limitations for filing a case against the state or another governmental entity, including a state university or the highway department. However, you will need to file a notice of claim within 180 days of the accident before pursuing a lawsuit.
In cases of wrongful death resulting from a car accident, the statute of limitations in North Dakota shortens to two years.
Why Are Statutes of Limitations in Car Accident Cases Necessary?
Statute of limitations serve an important purpose for several reasons, such as:
Encouraging Timely Resolution
Statutes of limitations create a sense of urgency for individuals who wish to pursue legal action following a car accident. They encourage plaintiffs to promptly investigate their claims, gather evidence, and initiate legal proceedings if necessary. This helps in the timely resolution of disputes.
These deadlines protect defendants from defending against stale claims. Over time, evidence may deteriorate or become unavailable, and witnesses' memories may fade. By setting time limits, the legal system ensures that defendants have a fair opportunity to defend themselves.
Legal Certainty and Stability
Statutes of limitations provide legal certainty and stability. Once the time limit passes, plaintiffs cannot pursue claims. This allows individuals and businesses to plan for the future without the looming threat of old claims resurfacing indefinitely.
Efficiency of the Legal System
Time limits imposed by statutes of limitations maintain the efficiency of the legal system. They prevent outdated cases from overwhelming courts, ensuring effective use of judicial resources.
Preservation of Evidence
Time limitations encourage the preservation of evidence relevant to a case. Plaintiffs and defendants are more likely to retain documents, records, and other evidence when they know they may need to use them in legal proceedings.
Witnesses play a crucial role in car accident cases. Statutes of limitations ensure that witnesses are available and their testimony is reliable by requiring legal action within a reasonable timeframe after the incident.
By imposing a deadline for legal action, statutes of limitations encourage parties to resolve disputes promptly, which can lead to earlier settlements, potentially avoiding protracted litigation.
How Soon After a Car Accident Should I Consult a Lawyer?
Contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident, especially if you believe you have a valid personal injury claim.
Here are some key reasons for promptly reaching out to an attorney:
- The earlier you involve an attorney, the better they can assist you in preserving crucial evidence, such as accident scene details, photographs, witness statements, and medical records. Evidence can deteriorate or become unavailable over time, so take immediate action.
- A lawyer can provide you with essential guidance on what steps to take immediately after the accident, such as what information to collect at the scene and how to interact with insurance companies. They can ensure that you follow proper procedures to protect your rights.
- Contacting a lawyer early ensures that you comply with the deadlines for filing a lawsuit. Missing these deadlines can result in the forfeiture of your legal rights.
- If you need to negotiate with insurance companies for compensation, an attorney can deal with claims adjusters, ensuring you receive a fair settlement. They can protect your interests and maximize the compensation you deserve.
- A lawyer can explain the importance of seeking prompt medical treatment, even if your injuries seem minor at first. Delaying medical attention can harm your health and your ability to make a claim.
- Early consultation with an attorney allows them to start formulating a legal strategy right away. They can assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and develop a plan for how to proceed.
- The sooner you hire an attorney, the quicker they can provide you with peace of mind, allowing you to focus on your recovery while your lawyer handles the legal aspects of your case.
Injured in a Car Accident? Don’t Let North Dakota’s Statute of Limitations Pass You By.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a North Dakota car accident, contact a lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights. The car accident lawyers at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers offer free initial consultations, so there's no cost or obligation to speak with an attorney soon after an accident. This consultation can help you understand your rights and learn whether pursuing legal action is in your best interest.
Ultimately, the sooner you seek legal advice, the better a lawyer will position you to stay within the statute of limitations, protect your rights, and achieve a successful outcome in your car accident case.