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How is Fault Determined in Montana?

In order to recover compensation after an injury occurs, victims must prove that another party caused the incident. They have to establish fault.

Determining fault after a Montana personal injury occurs is challenging. Yes, some cases are relatively straightforward. However, most injury claims require some investigation to determine exactly what happened so that victims can recover the compensation they are entitled to from the correct responsible parties.

Determining Liability After an Injury Occurs

The process of determining liability after an injury happens in Montana typically revolves around obtaining as much evidence as possible. Evidence helps paint a picture of what happened when the incident occurred, as well as information about what was happening immediately before and after the incident. Some of the primary types of evidence needed to determine liability after a Montana personal injury occurs can include:

  • Photographs taken by those at the scene of the incident
  • Video surveillance footage from any nearby cameras
  • Accident reports related to the incident
  • Statements from eyewitnesses and from those involved
  • Any police reports or citations related to the incident
  • Property owner or company safety and training records
  • Vehicle black box data
  • Mobile device data

No two personal injury claims are exactly alike, and the types of evidence required for one specific situation may look entirely different than the types of evidence needed for another type of injury claim. Ultimately, the goal of gathering this evidence is to prove that the elements of negligence are present, meaning that the alleged negligent party owed the injury victim(s) a duty of care and that they (the alleged negligent party) somehow breached their duty of care, causing the injury.

What is Comparative Negligence in Montana?

Not all personal injury claims are straightforward. In situations where there is shared fault between multiple parties, the process of determining levels of liability must occur. Montana uses what is known as a modified comparative negligence system, which means individuals can still recover compensation even if they are up to 51% at fault for causing the injury. Any person 51% or more responsible for causing their own injury will become unable to recover any compensation.

Any person deemed to be 51 percent or less responsible for causing their injury can recover compensation but at a reduced percentage depending on their level of fault.

How Does an Attorney Fit Into the Equation?

Individuals involved in an injury incident may be able to take some of the steps necessary to determine liability. This includes gathering some of the initial evidence from the scene of the incident and during the days following. However, these claims can get very complicated, particularly if there are any allegations of shared fault.

A skilled personal injury lawyer in Montana can help investigate every aspect of the incident, gather the evidence needed to prove liability and work to present a monetary demand to the insurance carriers involved. If necessary, an attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court in order to move the claim forward and help the injury victim recover compensation for their losses.