N.D. Gov. Approves Change to Comparative Fault Law

April 21, 2003

North Dakota Governor John Hoeven recently approved a significant tort liability reform bill that will help restore balance to the states judicial system. In addition, the governor is also considering legislation dealing with the payment of attorney fees in uninsured motorist claims.

HB 1263 provides that a person seeking to recover damages as a result of a motor vehicle accident and, who is not at fault in contributing to the accident may recover 100 percent of the damages from the person whose percentage of fault is over 50 percent. The bill also prohibits the reduction of indirect physical property damages that do not exceed $1,000.

“The governor approved HB 1263 based on the Attorney General’s recent opinion to clarify the state’s general comparative fault rule and further protect innocent third-party claimants who sustain damages as a result of motor vehicle accidents,” said Laura Kotelman, counsel for the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII).

“The NAII applauds the North Dakota legislature for recognizing the need to clarify the states comparative fault in motor vehicle accidents law, which has been quite confusing and led to some of the disputes and complaints to the North Dakota Department of Insurance,” said Kotelman.

“The governor is also considering NAII supported HB 1190. If approved, the legislation provides that in an action involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, each party to the lawsuit must pay their own attorneys’ fees. It also provides that insurers may pursue the same defenses that the uninsured or underinsured motorist would pursue. In addition, the bill strengthens the state’s no pay, no play law and contains provisions to clarify that vehicles with glass and hail damage will no longer be required to carry a salvage certificate of title,” added Kotelman.

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