North Dakota Personal Injury Attorneys
Fighting to Get the Results You Deserve.
North Dakota is a fantastic place to live and raise a family. It is a state filled with precious natural resources and hardworking people. The four seasons we enjoy make every day unique and exciting. Unfortunately, these unique qualities sometimes create negative consequences. Inclement weather can make for poor driving conditions, which increases the possibility of motor vehicle accidents and commercial truck accidents. The oilfield, with all of its economic benefits, also carries with it the dangers of working on rigs and pad sites.
Along with these unique elements that cause personal injuries in North Dakota, of course, individuals are also at risk of any other types of injury that exist anywhere in the world, like slip and fall, work injuries, recreational injuries, wrongful death, dog bites, distracted driving, rideshare accidents, and more.
Sustaining an injury can affect one’s life in a number of ways. From mild accidents to life-altering events, sustaining an injury can be especially frustrating if it was caused by the negligence or intentional wrongdoing of another person.
In these types of cases, you need an experienced North Dakota personal injury attorney that will be able to recover the compensation you deserve.
Insurance Companies Are Not On Your Side
Many times, insurance companies try to settle claims for pennies on the dollar, leaving injured people stuck paying outrageous doctor bills and other expenses. Insurance companies are multi-billion dollar corporations that have bottom lines and increased profits in sight. Despite the fact that they are “your insurance” company, their job is still to pay you as little as possible.
Likewise, the negligent parties, either the other driver, the business, the apartment complex, or whoever contributed to your injury, will have insurance companies that are also trying to deny or minimize your claim. There are literally teams of lawyers working to prevent your fair compensation.
This is specifically why it is necessary to hire an experienced and resourceful personal injury attorney firm in North Dakota.
What Can I Get Compensation for in a Personal Injury Claim?
After you’ve been injured in a personal injury accident, you may be concerned about the debt that you’ve accumulated. There are a variety of types of damages that you can recover after your accident. Our experienced attorneys fight to get our valued clients the compensation they deserve for their damages.
Special damages, also referred to as economic damages, including any losses that have a monetary value associated with them. These damages are calculated by looking at bills and records provided by hospitals, doctors, your employer, and more. Examples of these damages include:
- Medical bills
- Treatment and procedure expenses
- Cost of surgery
- Lost income
- Loss of future earnings
- Cost of future medical Care
- At-home care and therapy
- Property damage
- Other direct costs related to injury
General damages, also known as non-economic damages, are harder to calculate. They’re calculated based on how the accident and your injuries have affected your life. The more that your quality of life has changed for the worse, the higher your general damage compensation will be.
For example, if you were very active before the accident and now you have injuries that have altered your lifestyle, you’ll receive more compensation than someone who wasn’t previously active and has injuries that they will recover from. Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Lost earning ability
- Loss of companionship (in wrongful death cases)
Wrongful Death Damages
Wrongful death damages come into play when a loved one has passed away because of a personal injury accident. They may have passed away at the scene of the accident or later on because of complications associated with their injuries. Damages can be recovered by surviving family members on behalf of the deceased. The loved one filing the lawsuit may also be entitled to further compensation for their damages because of their loved one’s injuries and death. Examples of wrongful death damages include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Cost of pre-death medical care
- Emotional distress of surviving family and loved ones
- Financial contribution loss
- Loss of services and support
- Loss of companionship and consortium
While punitive damages are rare, they are given out on occasion as a way to further punish the at-fault party for their negligent actions. Most frequently, they’re given to the plaintiff when the defendant has acted with gross negligence. In a car accident, gross negligence can mean driving while intoxicated with alcohol or drugs. In a slip and fall accident, that could mean an incredibly messy restaurant. In a commercial truck accident, it might be because of the overscheduling of employees and fraudulent logbooks.
Common Types of North Dakota Injuries
Car accidents are by far the most common type of personal injury case in North Dakota and across the US. Auto accidents often happen because someone wasn’t following the rules of the road, wasn’t driving carefully, or was distracted while driving. These negligent drivers can be held responsible for the physical, financial, and emotional damage they cause, including injuries that result from the car accident.
Motorcycle accidents differ from car accidents in many ways. One of the most significant ways is that injuries that result from a car versus motorcycle accident are usually much more severe than the more common accident involving two cars colliding. Because the injuries associated with a motorcycle accident are often much worse, it can also sometimes mean higher settlement offers because of the increased damages. Motorcycle accidents must also be addressed from a unique legal angle due to differences in fault, negligence, how they should be investigated, and other factors.
Semi-truck accidents present some unique and serious issues. To start with, large commercial trucks often cause grave injuries to their size compared with a car. Additionally, because commercial trucking is regulated by both North Dakota and the United States, they are required to carry insurance with much higher limits than a regular car. Since the driver is often driving for another company (creating third-party opportunities), because they are well-regulated, and because they carry higher insurance limits, North Dakota truck accidents often result in much higher settlements.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
Pedestrian and bicycle accidents can pose a serious threat to their victims as both parties don’t have much protection. While a cyclist might have on a helmet, it’s usually not enough to stop a catastrophic injury from occurring. Pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents happen more frequently in urban areas where walking and cycling are more common. Pedestrian accidents often occur at intersections or crosswalks, while bicycle accidents more frequently occur because of improper lane changes and lane merges.
Oil Field Accidents
Oil field accidents are an unfortunate part of many North Dakotans’ lives. North Dakota brings in workers from all over the country to work in our lucrative oil fields. However, oil companies pay high wages for a reason. Oil workers often put in long hours and are subject to dangerous conditions. When an oil field injury or death occurs due to negligence, the injured worker or their family may be entitled to compensation. At Sand Law, we help oil field injury victims from all over the country with their North Dakota oil field injury claims.
If you are injured while working in North Dakota, you have rights through North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance. Workers’ compensation helps North Dakotans return to work as quickly as possible after their injury while compensating them for lost wages and medical bills. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. As your employer and their insurance company gear up for a legal battle, so should you. If you believe your workers’ comp claim was denied or reduced unjustly, Sand Law PLLC is here to help.
Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bite injuries can cause severe and lasting injuries and trauma to those affected. However, North Dakota is one of the few US states that does not have a specific statute for dog bite claims. Instead, North Dakota has relied on past cases to help dictate what should be done when a person is injured by another person’s dog.
Specifically, North Dakota uses the Supreme Court case Sendelbach v. Grad to determine that standard negligence rules apply to dog bites and other injuries from dogs in North Dakota. This standard negligence procedure says that in order for an injured person to receive compensation, they must prove that the owner had a duty to prevent the injury, the owner failed to live up to that duty, and the owner’s breach of that duty caused an injury.
In dog bite cases, that usually means that the owner should have restrained, trained, or controlled the dog in a way that would have prevented the injury. If you were injured due to a dog owner’s negligence, the attorneys at Sand Law can help you get justice.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall cases are a common type of personal injury case that we see here at Sand Law. A slip and fall can cause serious injuries are generally no laughing matter, despite our human instinct to trivialize them. Fall victims often receive serious head injuries, back injuries, or a host of other soft tissue injuries. In North Dakota, property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their property safe and free from hazards in order to prevent injury. To speak with an expert slip and fall injury attorney in North Dakota, contact Sand Law PLLC.
Catastrophic injuries include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Severe burns
Catastrophic injuries can occur because of any type of personal injury accident but are most common with motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, and slip and fall accidents. Additionally, catastrophic injuries have a large impact on the victim’s life, causing them not only intense pain and suffering but also a changed life. Long-term care is often required for those who have catastrophic injuries, resulting in high medical bills, lost wages, and often serious depression or PTSD.
Child injuries can be caused by a variety of different accidents, such as:
- Slips and falls
- Car accidents
- Daycare abuse
- Negligent supervision of a child
Injury to a child may also occur during childbirth because of medical malpractice. Common childhood injuries include cuts, scalds, burns, fractures, dislocation, bruises, head injury, swallowed objects, choking, poisoning, and objects stuck in the ear or nose. These injuries may occur under the supervision of a babysitter or daycare, for which you may be entitled to compensation because of their negligent supervision. Children are also often involved in bicycle accidents in their neighborhoods due to vehicles not looking behind them before backing out of their driveway or not looking before running a stop sign.
Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can take many different forms, such as mental, physical, sexual, or financial abuse. Elderly abuse in nursing home may also occur because of a neglectful staff. The neglect of an elderly person can lead to serious injuries, such as slips and falls. Signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Acting withdrawn
- Decrease in talking during visits
- Reluctant to speak when a staff member is present
- Unsanitary conditions
- Scrapes or cuts
- General signs of unhappiness
In a nursing home, negligence could be the failure to properly take care of an elderly person, such as cleaning their room, making sure they’re treated properly, and helping them with personal tasks like showering if they need it. Not installing handrails to prevent falls, leaving spills or clutter on the ground, and not making walkers available can also be considered negligence.
When you or someone that you love gets sick or is injured in North Dakota, you expect that the medical professionals caring for them will do everything in their power to help them. But when a doctor or hospital makes the situation worse, confusion and anger often follow.
Medical mistakes and medical negligence do happen, and they should not be swept under the rug. Medical malpractice cases in North Dakota are complicated and should be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorneys at Sand Law understand that this is a difficult time, and you will be treated accordingly. Contact us for a free consultation regarding your North Dakota medical malpractice case.
Defective Product Injuries
Defective products can be incredibly harmful, especially if they’re not labeled correctly. Negligence with products can mean the failure to warn consumers of the risk associated with the product. Defective drugs are a common example of this. Newer drugs that don’t have the research to show what the side effects are can cause dangerous side effects. Common injuries from defective products include cuts, broken bones, burns, head trauma, electrocution, and choking. Common injuries associated with defective medications include organ failure, serious illness, and wrongful death.
Distracted Driving Accidents
Distracted driving accidents are, unfortunately, very common. However, distraction while driving isn’t just limited to texting or talking on the phone. Distractions fall into three separate categories: manual, visual, and cognitive.
Manual distractions involve things like texting, talking on the phone, eating, drinking, putting on makeup, or adjusting the radio. Visual distractions occur when the driver’s hands remain on the wheel, but their eyes do not. This could include checking one’s appearance in the mirror, looking at a GPS, or looking at a passenger. Cognitive distractions occur when the driver’s mind wanders away from the road, daydreaming, caring for or disciplining one’s children, or simply thinking about something else that can cause an accident.
Drunk Driver Accidents
When someone’s blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) is above .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, and they choose to get behind the wheel of a car, an accident could be catastrophic. Drunk driver accidents are very common in North Dakota, with about 41% of traffic deaths involving intoxication. Being drunk can cause a driver to have an altered mood, confusion, and decreased reasoning, thinking, and muscle coordination.
Rideshare accidents are more complex than regular car accidents because of the addition of the ridesharing company and driver. Ridesharing accidents can occur when the driver is offline on the app when they’re online and awaiting a ride request, and when there’s a passenger in the car. The at-fault party in this situation could be the driver of the rideshare vehicle (with you as the passenger or as another driver) or the fault of another driver while you’re a passenger in a rideshare vehicle.
Wrongful death occurs when someone passes away at the scene of a personal injury accident or because of complications associated with the injuries they received because of a personal injury accident. Claims for wrongful death can be brought on by immediate family members, such as the surviving spouse, children, parent or parents, grandparent, or the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Wrongful death can be caused by motor vehicle accidents, oil field accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, and more.
Sand Law Personal Injury Practice Areas:
Personal injury cases have a lot of moving parts and can, at times, seem confusing. Here’s a rundown of how we handle a case from start to finish.
How Sand Law Will Handle Your Personal Injury Case
Our Personal Injury Intake Process
Every personal injury case at our firm begins with the intake process. This is the opportunity to first hear the details of your personal injury case, how you have been affected, and to see if we are a good fit for your claim type.
The intake process consists of gathering initial information such as your contact information, the date that the accident or injury occurred, whether you have sought medical treatment or are continuing to seek medical treatment, and how much this has set you back. Meaning we want to begin to get a good idea of the number of medical bills, lost wages, and possibly lost property value you have incurred.
For example, if you have been involved in a car accident, then you may have expenses for car repair costs and rental car fees. You may also have outstanding bills from an ambulance ride, the emergency room, your treating physician, and potentially a specialty physician, such as an orthopedic surgeon. You may have also missed work and are out of a paycheck. All of these factors are important for us to know as we move forward with your case.
Retainer Agreement for North Dakota Personal Injury Cases
We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that if we do not recover money for your claim, there are no fees or costs to you. Sand Law covers all of the costs upfront, which only get reimbursed if we are able to recover financial compensation in your case. These costs generally come in the form of expert reports, court filing fees, deposition fees, arbitration and mediation fees, as well as expert witness fees.
Sending Notices of Representations to Protect You
Once we, the attorneys, and you, the client, have signed the retainer agreement, our office sends out letters of representation to all interested parties. These parties usually consist of insurance companies, law firms, opposing parties, and sometimes a state agency, depending on the type of case.
For example, in a motor vehicle accident, we would need to send letters to your insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, any lawyers the other driver may have hired, and to a no-fault insurance provider. This lets everybody involved know that they have to deal directly with Sand Law and cannot contact you under any circumstances without first speaking with us.
Record Collection Regarding Your Personal Injury Case
One of the most important aspects of a personal injury case is to be as prepared as possible. This is where good record mining comes into play. The records we seek to retrieve depend on the type of case.
For a wrongful death case, we would need to get any police incident reports, autopsy records, death certificates, as well as financial information on the deceased to establish how dependent their loved ones may have been on them.
In a slip and fall case, we typically would request any video or photographic evidence of the scene in order to prove that the area was in an unsafe condition.
With truck accident cases, we ask to see the semi-truck driver’s logs to make sure he wasn’t driving over the regulated hours. For dog bite injury cases, we would want any records showing that the dog had a history of violence.
Finally, for auto accident cases, we would want to get the local police or state patrol crash incident reports as well as any medical records, EMT reports, or emergency room documentation. These records are the building blocks for an aggressive strategy on how to prosecute your particular injury matter.
Personal Injury Case Summary Compilation
Once we have collected and reviewed all of the records and reports in your case, we then sit down to draft a case summary. This consists of a number of items such as a medical records summary, an out-of-pocket summary (medical bills, etc.), a wage loss schedule, and in many cases, a preliminary expert report by either a medical professional or crash reconstruction expert.
Much of this information is also included in what is called a demand letter, which we will discuss below. The case summary is generally sent over to the at-fault party’s insurance company so that they will have all of the information accessible once we begin negotiations.
Drafting and Sending Demand Letters
A demand letter is our first opportunity to inform the at-fault party’s insurance company what we believe the case to be worth in dollars and cents. For many, this may seem like a cold approach, money being the only remedy. Unfortunately, the justice system does not allow us to go back in time and prevent an accident or bring a lost loved one back to life.
The remedy the courts provide is financial compensation. The way most cases are valued is by calculating the losses and damages and also comparing the information to similar cases that have been awarded jury verdicts or out-of-court settlements. When we send over a formal demand, settlement talks have begun to initiate. Often, we will give the insurance company a deadline on how long they have to respond.
Negotiating a Settlement to Get Your Fair Compensation
The length of the negotiation process depends on a number of variables. For instance, if a client is still treating their injury through physical therapy or some other form of treatment – then the process may take a little longer because we don’t know exactly how many bills they will have at that moment in time. However, if a client is done with treatment and simply wants to move on with their lives, get their bills paid, be compensated for their pain and suffering, and move on – then the process can move more expeditiously. Every case is unique in its own regard.
Arbitration and Mediation in a Personal Injury Case
If negotiations come to a standstill, a common exercise is for the parties to enter into what is called arbitration and/or mediation. This is where the parties agree upon a third-party neutral to listen to both sides of the case and help the parties arrive at a resolution. At this stage in the game, medication is generally non-binding. This means that if the parties fail to come to an agreement, they can continue to pursue other avenues, such as formal litigation.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit On Your Behalf
If the parties are unable to settle the case in what is called the “pre-litigation” phase, then the next step is for us to formally serve the opposing party with a summons and complaint that later gets filed with the court. This is when official personal injury court proceedings begin. A judge is assigned to the case, and a scheduling order of events is issued.
Entering the Discovery Phase of Trial
The discovery portion of a case is when all of the information is exchanged between the parties. This goes above and beyond what has already been exchanged up to this point. The parties can ask specific questions of each other, referred to as “interrogatories.” They may also ask for the exchange of certain physical evidence, such as photographs, bank records, social media posts, and tax records. The parties also have the opportunity to “depose” one another. This is a fancy legal term for a lawyer being allowed to ask the other party questions face to face with a court reporter making an official record of what is said.
Working for You to Protect Your Case from Malicious Motions
At this stage in the litigation, the parties have the opportunity to move the court with certain requests. These requests can be as basic as asking that certain facts be removed from evidence or that the case be thrown out of court in its entirety. This is called a “motion for summary judgment.” This means that one party moves the court to dismiss the entire action because there are not enough facts to prove the case before a jury. This is one of the largest obstacles in any personal injury matter. It is key that the action survives summary judgment in order to continue with the case.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Once summary judgment is overcome, it is common for the parties to again go before a mediator or an arbitrator in order to settle the case. The same process as described above in the medication section applies here. Only this time, the process is court-ordered.
Taking Your Personal Injury Case to Trial
Over 98% of all cases never reach this stage. However, for those that do, there is a certain set of events that must be followed.
A trial first begins with selecting a jury. The jury is made up of men and women that live in the local community. This is called a “jury of one’s peers.” In North Dakota, the most common jury size is a jury of nine people. In selecting a jury, the attorneys are able to remove prospective jurors if they are able to show that the particular juror has a bias towards a certain aspect of the case. Other factors, such as health problems or familial obligations, can play a role in who stays and who gets kicked off of the jury.
Once a jury is selected, each attorney has an opportunity to make an opening argument. This is their first chance to describe the case and their position to the jury. The plaintiff goes first, followed by the defense lawyer.
Each side then has the opportunity to present their case in chief by calling witnesses and presenting evidence to the jury. The opposing attorney also has the chance to cross-examine witnesses and dispute any evidence. After the jury has heard all of the evidence, the attorneys have one final chance to plead their case through what is known as “closing arguments.” The judge will then issue specific legal instructions to the jury, who then retire to the jury room to decide the outcome of the case.
Post-Trial Motions and Appeals
Once the trial has been completed, a party may have a right to dispute rulings made by the trial court judge through motions or appellate work. If the judge is overruled by the appellate court, the case may have to be re-tried in its entirety.
Understanding North Dakota Personal Injury Laws
The most important rule to consider for any personal injury case is whether the statute of limitations has passed. For most personal injury cases such as car accidents, truck accidents, and slip and falls – the statute of limitations is six years. However, wrongful death cases have only a two-year statute of limitation.
Other important rules established by both the courts as well as the legislature have to do with damages. That is, the amount of compensation a party may be awarded for a specific injury. For medical malpractice cases, there is a limit as to how much a plaintiff may recover for non-economic damages. These types of damages include pain and suffering, humiliation, and permanent disfigurement. In North Dakota, the cap is $500,000.00. Additionally, any award for economic damages that exceeds $250,000.00 may be reviewed and altered by the court if they find the award to be unreasonable.
North Dakota Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations
The Statute of Limitations refers to how long you have to file a claim against the at-fault party after the accident occurs. In North Dakota, you have six years to file a court case after an injury and two years to file a court case after a wrongful death. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, if a child is under legal age or if the injured party is in a coma for an extended period.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Firm in North Dakota to Protect You and Your Family
With offices located in Fargo, Watford City, Williston, Minot, and Bismarck, the personal injury lawyers of Sand Law PLLC are strategically positioned to handle cases throughout the state of North Dakota. We have the resources necessary to follow your case all the way through to the end, meaning we will not fold, and we will not buckle at the idea of a lengthy or complicated case. We focus on quality representation that actually protects our North Dakotan clients and their families.