Montana, a state of expansive landscapes and rugged beauty, also has its own distinctive legal terrain when it comes to car accidents. In contrast to the no-fault systems prevalent in some states, Montana operates as a “fault” or “tort” state. This designation has implications for responsibility, insurance requirements, and potential legal actions in the aftermath of a car accident. This blog will discuss the details you need to understand regarding your fault if you have been involved in a car accident.
Fault Allocation in Montana
In Montana, determining fault in a car accident involves a nuanced approach. The state follows a modified comparative negligence system, where each party involved is responsible for damages based on their percentage of fault. This system operates under the 51% bar rule, which means that you may only seek compensation if the other party is “majority” at fault. For instance, if your fault is 30% and the other driver is 70% at fault, you can pursue compensation, albeit reduced by 30%. To put this into perspective, in that same scenario, if your damages amount to $10,000 and your fault is 30%, you would be entitled to $7,000 in damages.
Fault allocation will be determined based on the road rules and regulations, and if those rules or regulations were violated, the determination will be based on the portion that the violation contributed to the accident. That is, if one of the parties was speeding by 30mph over the posted speed limit, the fault attributed to that violation would be higher than if the party was speeding by 1mph over the speed limit, because the higher speed contributed in a greater manner to the accident.
Montana, being a “tort” state, provides individuals with multiple avenues for seeking compensation after a car accident. These include filing a claim with one’s insurance company, initiating a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance, or pursuing a car accident lawsuit against the responsible party. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is generally three years from the date of the accident.
It is critical that you obtain the assistance of an experienced attorney without delay after your car accident to ensure that the correct evidence is maintained and that you are able to seek compensation for the full damages that you are entitled to, especially when an injury is involved. Skilled attorneys play a crucial role in meticulously assessing and documenting these losses to determine the full, long-term cost of the accident.
Dealing with Uninsured Motorists:
Montana’s laws also address scenarios where the at-fault driver lacks insurance. In such cases, individuals can file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with their insurance company if they have the necessary coverage. Montana law mandates the offer of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, and individuals must decline it in writing if they choose not to include it in their policy. Your attorney will maintain contact with your insurance company and assist you in enforcing your legal rights.
In the vast expanse of Montana’s legal landscape, understanding the state’s approach to car accidents is pivotal for plaintiffs. Navigating fault allocation, insurance requirements, and legal recourse options demands a nuanced understanding, underscoring the importance of consulting experienced attorneys. Montana’s distinctive framework ensures that those involved in car accidents have avenues to pursue just compensation and reinforces the need for a thoughtful and strategic approach in seeking resolution.
If you want to learn how you can seek monetary compensation for your loss, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Attorney Anthony F. Jackson has years of experience representing clients in admitted and contested liability cases. We can identify the defendants who may be liable for your injuries, liaise with insurance, settle cases in your best interests, and prepare your case for trial if it is not resolved through settlement negotiation.