Montana Auto Accident Laws for Accidents Involving Uninsured Drivers
According to research by the Insurance Information Institute, 8.5% of drivers in Montana are uninsured. If you are in a car accident in Montana and the other driver is without insurance, you have several options:
- Sue the other driver. You can still file a lawsuit against the other driver. But if he or she has no assets it can be difficult to collect on any judgment awarded.
- Sue a third party. Some auto accidents are due to factors other than driver error. For example, a brake failure may have contributed to the accident. This could give you a potential claim against a third party.
- File an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) claim. If you have UIM insurance, you may be able to seek compensation from your insurance company.
Reporting a Car Accident in Montana
Montana’s Uniform Accident Reporting Act requires a driver to report an accident if:
- The car accident caused damage of $1,000 or more.
- The car accident caused an injury or death.
The driver must report the accident to the local police department, county sheriff, or to the nearest office of the Montana Highway Patrol. Drivers must also file a report with the Montana Motor Vehicle Division with 10 days of the accident.
Types of Damages in Montana Auto Accident Cases
Montana auto accident laws do not limit the recovery of economic damages. Non-economic damages cannot exceed $250,000 per person. Some of the different types of damages you can recover in Montana are:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Property Losses
Medical expenses make up a large percentage of economic damages in a car accident case. Compensation can include expenses you have already incurred. They can also include the costs of future medical treatment. Some common types of medical expenses car accident victims can recover include:
- Ambulance costs
- Physician visits
- Physical therapy and chiropractic care
Proving estimated future medical expenses often requires retaining a medical expert. Future medical expenses can exceed immediate medical costs from the accident. An experienced Montana car accident lawyer can help you recover the compensation that you deserve.
If you miss time from work, you can seek compensation for lost wages. You may also receive compensation for any permanent reduction in income. This includes not being able to return to work. Or having to take a lower paying job if you can no longer perform the same job duties.
Proving the costs of future medical treatment is complex. Many car accident victims make the mistake of accepting a low settlement offer. An experienced Montana car accident lawyer can help you prove the full extent of your damages.
Pain and Suffering
A car accident victim in Montana can recover up to $250,000 in non-economic damages. This includes pain and suffering. Pain and suffering represents emotional and physical injuries suffered in a car accident.
Some examples of pain and suffering include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic pain
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Disability or physical limitations
Calculating pain and suffering is complex. An experienced Montana auto accident lawyer can help you calculate your non-economic damages.
Accident victims can recover damages for property losses. For example, the costs of repairing a damaged vehicle.
Recovering Damages in a Montana Auto Accident Case
Montana car accident victims can recover damages in several ways. The first step is often to contact your insurance company to report the accident. Your insurance company will contact the other driver’s insurance company. They will work together to make a fault determination.
If the other driver is at-fault his insurance company will pay your damages up to the policy limits. If you are more than 50% at-fault you will not receive any compensation. But damages to your vehicle may fall under your collision coverage.
When the other driver is at-fault you will often receive a settlement offer from his insurance company. The offer is generally a letter. The initial offer is often low. Insurance companies try to limit their liability. A car accident victim that is not represented by a lawyer may accept the offer. If they do they will not receive full compensation under Montana auto accident laws.
You have the option of sending a formal demand letter to the other driver’s insurance company. The demand letter details the extent of your damages. It also includes an offer to settle the case. A Montana car accident lawyer can help you determine the value of your claim.
Another option involves filing a lawsuit. The lawsuit may name the insurance company, other driver, and third parties as defendants. There are several reasons why it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. First, the insurance company may be unwilling to budge on their offer. In this case, you can go to trial to attempt to get more compensation from a jury.
Second, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations has expired. This is the case even if you are negotiating with the insurance company. It is important to preserve your right to go to trial if settlement negotiations fail.
To recover damages at trial you must prove that the other driver was negligent. This means that the driver failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care and caused the accident. If you contributed to the accident but were less than 50% at-fault your damage award will reduce.
Montana Car Accident Settlement Calculator
Were you in a motor vehicle accident or otherwise injured in Montana? Determine how much compensation you may be able to receive. Our online Injury Settlement Calculator only takes a few minutes to complete.