Montana Car Accident Overview, Lawyers and Lawsuits
Montana’s nickname of “Big Sky Country” accurately describes the feeling one gets visiting or residing in the state. Large, open spaces and majestic mountains are interspersed with lush forests, clear waters, and abundant wildlife. Montana residents generally like the fact that their state has a reputation of being “untamed,” and this reputation is further fueled by the fact that just barely 1 million people live within the state (according to a 2013 census).
Montana may be a desirable place in which to live or visit because it seems like the furthest place away from a big city, but even “wild” Montana has big-city problems when it comes to traffic accidents. Despite the small population, traffic accidents occur with some regularity in Montana. Because of the remote nature of some places, an injury victim may experience more severe injuries if there is a delay in obtaining treatment. This can make it even more necessary for car crash victims in Montana to ensure they are adequately compensated through a car crash lawsuit.
Montana Car Accident Data
The Montana Department of Transportation maintains statistics concerning the number of motor vehicle crashes that happen in the state and important facts about these accidents. This data shows that in 2015 there were 78 fatal car crashes, 215 crashes that resulted in serious injury to at least one person, and 1,264 that resulted in some injury that was not classified as serious. In all, there were 6,821 crashes of all types – an increase from 2014’s number of 6,398.
Montana’s isolation and wilderness may contribute in part to the state’s accident statistics. Because there are not many people living in Montana, isolation from other people may make some drivers feel comfortable with drinking or using drugs before driving. The presence of law enforcement in the state is also sparse – there is simply too much property for law enforcement to be everywhere at all times – may also encourage drivers to violate speed limits and drive in an aggressive, reckless manner. Although it is easy to understand why some may feel that they are all alone on Montana’s roads, driving recklessly or engaging in risky behavior can lead to an injury or fatal car crash. When this happens, that risky behavior that one engaged in may result in that person being found responsible for the injured party’s losses and expenses.
Montana is a “Fault Based” Insurance State
Montana requires drivers to carry auto insurance with sufficient policy limits to provide compensation for any injuries or damage they may cause. Montana follows a fault-based approach to insurance claims, so injured parties file claims for compensation with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. Lawsuits may also be able to be filed against the at-fault driver and/or his or her insurance company if the compensation received is too little to fully and fairly compensate the injury victim.
In the event a lawsuit is filed and evidence emerges that the injury victim also engaged in negligent behavior and this behavior contributed to the crash and the victim’s injuries, the judge or jury will need to determine what percentage of fault is attributable to the injury victim. If the determination is made that the victim is 50 percent or less at fault for causing the crash and the resulting injuries, then the victim may still receive compensation (but the amount received would be reduced in proportion to the amount of the victim’s fault). If the victim is found to be the primary cause of the accident, then the victim is not entitled to any compensation at all.
Montana Statute of Limitations
If an injury victim believes it is necessary to file a car accident lawsuit, the injury victim must take steps to do so within three years of the date of the accident. The statute of limitations is designed to encourage claims to be brought and resolved in a timely manner; as a result, there are few exceptions available that would enable an injury victim to file and pursue a claim after the passing of the three years. It is far more advisable (and less stressful) to investigate one’s legal rights early and decide quickly whether a car crash lawsuit is an available avenue through which one can receive the compensation he or she needs.
Contact Stern Law, PLLC Today
Car accidents can be confusing, and (unfortunately) confusion in the aftermath of a car crash can lead to bad decisions or periods of inaction. Do not let your legal rights languish because you do not know what you should be doing. Call Stern Law, PLLC at (844) 808-7529 as soon as possible. Attorney Ken Stern will help you understand your rights and options and will work with you to obtain the compensation you need for your injuries. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today.