Posted in News on December 20, 2021
Any person who sustains an injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual or entity in Montana should be able to recover compensation for their losses. However, what happens if an injury victim is partially responsible for causing the incident that led to the injuries?
Here, we want to discuss how partial liability is handled in personal injury civil lawsuits in Montana. This is crucial to understand because insurance carriers and other parties will often use tactics to limit how much money they payout in a settlement. This can lead to unfair payments to injury victims.
Montana’s Law Surrounding Partial Fault
States around the country use different systems to handle what happens if a person is partially responsible for causing their own injuries. In Montana, this state follows the “modified comparative fault theory.” This means that an individual can still recover compensation for their injuries so long as their percentage of fault does not exceed 50%. If an individual is 50% or more responsible for causing their own injuries, they will not be able to recover any compensation.
However, if a person is less than 50% responsible for causing their own injuries, they can recover compensation, though the total amount of compensation they receive will be reduced based on their percentage of fault.
For example, let us suppose one driver fails to stop at a stop sign and crashes into another at night and sustains $100,000 worth of damages. In general, the driver who ran the stop sign would be at fault and have to pay compensation to the other driver. However, what if the driver who was struck did not have their headlights on, even though it was nighttime. In this instance, a judge or jury may find that the individual who was struck by the driver who ran the stop sign was 40% at fault for the incident for not having their headlights on. In this situation, the driver would receive $60,000 instead of the full $100,000 to account for their percentage of fault.
How is Fault Assessed?
Fault is assessed after a crash based on what can be proven by the evidence that has been gathered. A comprehensive investigation will be needed to determine who was responsible for a crash in Montana. Some of the evidence that will be used to determine percentages of fault includes:
- The police report
- Damage to vehicles
- Photographs taken at the scene
- Surveillance footage, if available
- Testimony from eyewitnesses
- Testimony from drivers and passengers
- Any other relevant details
For relatively complicated vehicle accidents where fault may not be immediately clear, it may be necessary to work with trusted accident reconstruction experts who can examine the evidence that is available and use various computer programs to generate 3D renderings of what likely occurred to cause the crash.
Working With an Attorney
It is incredibly important for any person involved in a vehicle accident caused by another driver to work with a skilled car accident attorney as soon as possible. A Montana vehicle accident lawyer can use their resources to handle every aspect of these claims. They will enlist trusted experts who can provide statements and testimony to insurance carriers or a personal injury jury if necessary. An attorney will handle all negotiations with other parties involved on behalf of their client.