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Montana Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline

Being the fourth largest state in the country, Montana is heavily populated by unspoiled nature. Despite the relaxed atmosphere, car accidents still happen in Montana every day. Let's say you're on your way to go to Glacier National Park on a snowy day. While you carefully stop at a stop sign, the car behind you slips on the road and rear-ends you. What do you do now? In the event of a crash, you should be aware of the Montana car accident settlement process and timeline in order to protect your rights.

Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Montana?

Yes, in some cases. First, you must immediately report the crash to the police if: (1) an accident resulted in injury or death of any person, (2) an accident in which the vehicle strikes the body of a deceased person, or (3) an accident causing property damage to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more.

You must file a written report to the Montana Motor Vehicle Division within 10 days of the accident if: (1) a person is killed or injured, or (2) property damage exceeds $1,000.

Montana Car Insurance Laws

Montana requires its drivers to hold liability insurance that covers costs associated with injury and property damage as a result of a car accident. Your insurance coverage must meet the following minimums:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 for total bodily injury of multiple people per accident
  • $20,000 total property damage

If you fail to maintain these requirements, you can face fines and license suspension. So, make sure you keep proof of your insurance in your vehicle at all times.

How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Montana?

As with many other states, Montana applies the fault system when it comes to car accidents and insurance claims. This system gives an injured person several options to receive compensation for any injuries and damages suffered. If you've sustained certain injury or property damage from a car accident, you have three options: (1) file a claim with your own insurance company, (2) file a third-party claim with the other driver's insurance company, or (3) file a lawsuit against the other driver at fault.

Most car accident claims are settled with an insurance company or during settlement negotiations before the case goes to court. If you are filing a claim with an insurance company, it will investigate your case and determine the amount of damages to compensate you. The insurance company will either offer you a settlement check or deny your claim.

If you are having a problem with your settlement process with your insurance company, first make an appeal to a claims supervisor. If that doesn't work, Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance ("CSI") can help you resolve the matter once you file a complaint. Keep in mind, though, CSI is dedicated to investigate any unreasonable activities, not to make settlements.

What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in Montana?

There is no set formula to determine the amount of car accident damages because every case is different. Typical car accident damages are medical expenses, car repair or replacement costs, lost wages due to missed work, physical pain, and emotional distress.

Montana applies the modified comparative negligence rule when it comes to shared fault among the parties. Under this rule, you can still recover damages as long as you are 50 percent or less at fault. However, if you are found more at fault than the other driver, you won't be able to recovery any damages. Measuring fault depends on several factors involving proving a legal theory called negligence. If fault is shared in your case, it's in your best interests to consider talking to an experienced attorney.

How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Montana?

In Montana, you have three years to file a lawsuit for personal injury and two years for property damage. The time starts from the date of the accident. Once you miss the deadline, the court will refuse to hear your case.

Get Help With the Car Accident Settlement Process From a Montana Attorney

Is someone blaming you for the accident? Or did the insurance company reject your claim or offer less than you're entitled to? It's important to understand the law and your rights after an accident, especially if the other party is at fault. An experienced car accident attorney in Montana can help you figure out what your legal options are.

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