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In North Dakota, How Does a Jury Award Money in a Car Accident?

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Q: In North Dakota, how does a jury award money in a car accident?

A: It depends who is at fault.  In North Dakota state courts, juries (usually a jury of either six or nine people from your county) will have to determine who, if anyone, is at “fault” before awarding money to an injured person.  Think pie charts—in any motor vehicle accident where negligence is alleged and there is a jury trial, a jury has to find fault, and that fault must add up to 100%.  Here are a few examples—

Example 1:

  • Brian Bison is the front car in a rear-end accident with Sue Fighting Hawks.  Brian commences a lawsuit against Sue.  In this instance, the jury determined that Sue was 100% at fault.  To that end, the jury awards Brian $50,000.00 (for both economic and non-economic damages) and Brian can collect all $50,000.00 from Sue.

Example 2:

  • Brian Bison and Sue Fighting Hawks are involved in a t-bone car accident at an uncontrolled intersection in rural North Dakota.  Brian Bison again commences a lawsuit against Sue, and this time, the jury finds that Sue is 60% at fault and Brian is 40% at fault.  Even though the jury also found that Brian sustained $50,000 in damages arising out of the accident, he may only collect $30,000 (or 60%) from Sue.

Example 3:

  • Brian and Sue are involved in a car accident where one hits the other after driving through smoke caused by a local farmer (Sven Svenson) who was burning the ditches by the road.  Brian commences a lawsuit against both Sue and Sven, and the jury apportions fault as follows:  Brian is 30% at fault, Sue is 40% at fault, and Sven is 30% at fault for having started the fire and negligently supervising it.  Brian proves $50,000.00 in damages, but he is only able to collect 70 of his damages; 30% from Sven and 40% from Sue.

Generally, in North Dakota, a party is only responsible for their percentage of fault in a motor vehicle accident.

Even the most straight forward motor vehicle accident can present complex legal and factual issues.  A qualified attorney can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact Mark Western at Fremstad Law to discuss your specific legal situation. Mark understands car accidents and has tried numerous car accident cases to juries. He is familiar with the judicial process and will help guide you through your most difficult moments. He can be reached at 701-478-7620 or at