An accident involving personal injury can be scary. You may not understand your rights or know how to recover your medical costs, lost wages from missed time at work, or property damage expenses. We understand how devastating a bad accident can be, and we are committed to helping families and individuals get through tough times with honest, reliable, and beneficial legal counsel. If you need help after an accident, we are here for you.
What Is a “Personal Injury” Claim in Montana?
A personal injury claim is every victim’s right if someone else’s actions cause the accident. Montana’s civil justice system includes provisions permitting injured accident victims to seek financial restitution (damages) through a personal injury claim, in which the claimant (plaintiff) will have to prove the other party’s (defendant’s) negligence. A personal injury claim will have two basic issues:
- Liability: The question of liability is at the center of all personal injury claims. Liability refers to one’s legal responsibility for someone else’s damages. Someone may carry liability for a personal injury if he or she should have done something to prevent the injury. In other words, if the person was negligent in a way that caused or contributed to someone else’s injuries.
- Damages represent the injuries and losses the victim sustained in an accident because of the defendant’s negligence or breach of duty. Damages can refer to a range of losses, including property repairs, medical bills, personal injuries, emotional distress, lost wages, mental anguish, the death of a loved one, funeral/burial costs, loss of consortium, and lost enjoyment of life.
In a successful personal injury claim, the plaintiff will prove the defendant’s negligence and fault for the accident, after which the judge or jury will award the plaintiff a financial award to reimburse the total value of the plaintiff’s losses. This amount could be in the millions depending on the severity of the injuries. The skill of the lawyer involved in the personal injury claim can go a long way toward maximizing damage recovery in Billings.
Common Types of Personal Injury Claims
- Auto accidents. There were more than 34,000 fatal car accidents in 2016, and many thousands more caused all types of injuries. When a driver suffers injuries from a car accident, he or she should meet with a reliable personal injury attorney to determine whether a negligent driver is responsible for the injured driver’s damages. A personal injury lawsuit for an auto accident in Montana can yield compensation for the plaintiff’s vehicle repair costs, medical bills, and pain and suffering from severe injuries.
- Violent crimes. When a person commits a violent crime such as armed robbery or assault, the offender can face criminal action from the state as well as civil actions from their victims. The victim of a violent crime can file a personal injury claim for his or her medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and property damage resulting from a violent crime. Some defendants will need to pay restitution or punitive damages to victims, and the amount depends on the financial status of the defendant and the seriousness of the offense.
- Injuries and damages from defective products. Product manufacturers must ensure their products are safe and effective through normal use. This means ensuring safe and consistent production practices, including comprehensive safety warnings and instructions for proper use for all products, and designing safe and effective products. When a defective product results in injury to a consumer, the injured party will not necessarily have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent, only that the product in question is defective and directly caused the plaintiff’s damages.
- Medical malpractice. Medical errors are an increasingly common reason for personal injury claims in the United States. When a medical professional fails to meet an acceptable standard of care for a patient, he or she faces civil liability for the resulting harm. Misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses, surgical errors, and pharmacy errors are a few examples of common medical malpractice cases. While these cases follow a similar framework to typical personal injury claims, some states have special provisions concerning caps on damages, punitive damages, and the statute of limitations for filing claims.
- Dog bites. Montana dog owners should know that the state follows a strict liability rule for dog bite injuries that occur in public places or while lawfully within private property. As long as the victim did not provoke the dog, the dog’s owner is liable for any resulting damages regardless of whether or not the owner knew the dog may attack someone.
- Child injuries at daycare or school. Parents trust schools, daycares, and other childcare facilities to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children. When child injuries occur in these places, the parents must determine whether or not an injury occurred due to negligence. Poor supervision, defunct playground equipment, dangerous toys, and excessive roughhousing between kids can all result in serious injuries.
- Public transportation accidents. When a driver or passenger suffers injuries from an accident with a common carrier, such as a bus agency or other form of public transportation, the process for filing a legal claim is different than one filed against another private citizen. An attorney can help an injured public transportation passenger determine his or her legal options for filing a lawsuit against a government entity.
- Workplace injuries. An injured employee will have the opportunity to file for workers’ compensation benefits after an on-the-job injury, but these benefits may not fully cover all the employee’s damages. If a negligent supervisor, defective product, or negligent third party caused the employee’s injury, an attorney can help the injured employee determine his or her options for legal recourse.
How is Negligence Determined in Montana?
Determining liability comes down to proving negligence. Negligence is a legal theory that refers to the failure to use reasonable care in doing something, resulting in another person’s injury or other damage. Negligence can take many shapes and forms, according to the situation. Anything that a reasonable and prudent person would or would not have done in a similar circumstance could constitute negligence in the state of Montana. Examples of negligence that often cause personal injury accidents include:
- Distracted or dangerous driving. Distracted and negligent drivers cause thousands of serious personal injuries and deaths in Montana every year. It is every driver’s legal duty to reasonably prevent injuries to others on the roadway. Failure to do so, causing a car accident, is negligence. Common examples include drunk driving, drowsy driving, texting and driving, speeding, and ignoring the right-of-way.
- Lack of property maintenance. Premises liability claims arise when a landowner negligently cares for the property, resulting in hazards such as slip-and-fall risks, property defects, malfunctioning equipment, dangerous staircases, loose animals, exposed wires, toxic substances, and uncovered swimming pools. The owner will be liable if his/her negligence caused the accident in question.
- Medical negligence (malpractice). Medical malpractice describes the failure of a health care practitioner or facility to adhere to the accepted standards of patient care in the medical industry. Inadequate patient care, misdiagnoses, medication errors, surgical mistakes, birth injuries, and malfunctioning medical equipment are all examples of health risks that should not exist under reasonable circumstances.
If you’re not sure whether someone else’s negligence played an integral role in your or a loved one’s recent accident and injuries, consult with our attorneys to find out. We’ll listen to your side of the story, review your medical records, and learn as much as we can about your case. Then, we’ll help you determine the defendant(s) we believe are liable for your damages.
Next, we’ll file your personal injury claim against the negligent person or entity within Montana’s three-year statute of limitations. Your financial future could depend on the lawyer you choose as your representation.
Reliable Legal Resources.
The Billings personal injury attorneys at Ragain & Cook, P.C. specialize in protecting and aggressively pursuing the interests of individuals throughout Billings, Montana and surrounding areas in all types of personal injury cases including motor vehicle crashes, premises and product liability, nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, and wrongful death claims. With more than four decades of experience, Jim Ragain and Joe Cook know how to pursue fair compensation regardless of the circumstances of the incident.
Injured in an accident? Contact us today.
The key to obtaining the compensation you are legally entitled to is to enlist the aid of a Billings personal injury lawyer who is well-versed in investigating the facts, gathering critical evidence and documenting losses, whether medical or property damage, and who will truly be a strong ally in your corner.
If have been involved in a personal injury event, contact our top rated Billings personal injury law firm. You have nothing to lose and potentially thousands to gain, by way of jury verdict or settlement, when you speak to us during a free legal consultation. Get to know our competent and caring lead attorneys, hear a skilled professional’s understanding of your case and see our proven case results.
Call (406) 206-4831 or submit our online contact form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your case.