If you live in Belgrade, Montana, or anywhere else in the state, you may wonder how car accidents are handled in our state. What are your rights and responsibilities if you are involved in a crash? How can you recover compensation for your injuries and damages? How is fault determined and what are the deadlines for filing a claim?
Montana is a fault state
Unlike some states that follow a no-fault system, our state is a fault state when it comes to car accidents. This 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. You can do this by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver or by making a claim with their insurance company.
Benefits of living in a fault state
You can choose to file a claim with your own insurance company, with the other driver’s insurance company or with both. You can also file a lawsuit against the other driver or any other party that contributed to the accident.
You can hold the negligent driver accountable. By proving that the other driver was at fault for the accident, you can make them pay for the harm they caused you and deter them from repeating their careless behavior.
Drawbacks of living in a fault state
You must prove fault. Unlike in no-fault states, where fault is not an issue, you have to show evidence that the other driver was negligent or violated a traffic law that caused the accident. This can be challenging, especially if the other driver denies responsibility or if there are multiple parties involved.
You may face comparative negligence. Montana follows a comparative negligence rule, which means that your own negligence can reduce your recovery.
You have to meet the statute of limitations. Montana has a deadline for filing a car accident lawsuit or claim. You have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit and two years to file a property damage lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, you may lose your right to recover any compensation.