Car accidents are, unfortunately, a very common occurrence. However, most car accidents do not involve personal injury, meaning that no one was hurt during the accident -- instead, these types of accidents usually result in property damage only. Victims of car accidents may be compensated for property damage and for their personal injury, if applicable. Each state has different car accident compensation laws.
This article provides a brief overview of car accident compensation laws in the state of Montana.
Montana Car Accident Compensation Laws: At a Glance
The chart below details some of the most important aspects of Montana's car accident compensation laws.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
"Fault" and "Modified Comparative Fault" Rules in Montana
Montana is a "fault" state, which means that if you are injured in a car accident and wish to recover damages for your injuries, you must prove to the court that another driver caused your injuries. Beware of Montana's 51% Bar Rule, which will prevent you from recovering damages for your injuries if the court finds that you are 51% or more at fault for the injuries you suffered in an accident.
The 51% Bar Rule is another name for a type of modified comparative negligence, a rule that allows the court to attribute a percentage of fault to each party involved in a car accident and reduce each party's damages accordingly. Montana courts only award damages to those parties 50% or less at fault for the accident. This means that if you suffered $10,000 in damages but you were 40% at fault, the court will grant you damages but only in the amount of $6,000.
Types of Damages Allowed in Montana
If you choose to proceed with filing a lawsuit, you will quickly learn that there are two types of damages that you can claim: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical bills, car repair costs, lost wages, and other bills you might receive. Non-economic damages are harder to assign a value to and include the loss of companionship, disability or disfigurement, and emotional distress.
These are some of the car accident damages you might suffer:
- Vehicle repair or replacement costs
- Mental or physical distress
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- In-home services (even if non-medical)
- Hospital bills
Limits on Damages in Montana
Road rage happens. If you believe that the person at fault for your car accident caused the accident intentionally, you should know that Montana does have a state-imposed limit on the amount of punitive damages you will be able to receive. Courts use punitive damages to punish intentional tortfeasors, and Montana caps these damages at $10 million or 3%of the defendant's net worth, whichever is less.
If you suffered property damage in a car accident, you will want to file a lawsuit rather quickly. Montana has a time limit for how long people can wait to file a lawsuit, also known as a statute of limitations, and for property damage, the limit is only two short years. Fortunately for injured parties, Montana allows an extra year for filing lawsuits for general and personal injuries, for a total of three years.
Carpooling Montana employees should note that Montana explicitly limits employer liability on injuries or damages sustained during ridesharing.
Have a Montana Car Accident Claim? An Attorney Can Help You Recover
Montana's 51% Bar Rule and the lack of limits on accident damages can make it hard for anyone who doesn't regularly deal with car accidents to estimate the potential value of a claim.
If you suffered injuries in a car accident in Montana, a Montana car accident attorney can help set you on the right path.