Due in part to the lack of protection and vehicle size, motorcyclists are at a higher risk of injury than car drivers and passengers. Motorcycle accidents can lead to serious injuries and sometimes deaths. In fact, on a per mile bases, motorcyclists are nearly 29 times likely to be involved in a fatal collision than drivers of passenger vehicles. If you or a loved one has suffered a severe motorcycle accident in Montana because of someone else’s negligence, contact the motorcycle accidents lawyers at Kovacich Snipes Johnson, P.C. for guidance.
Motorcycle Accident Liability in Montana
For the court to award you damages, you need to determine who is liable for the incident. There could be a single party responsible or there may be multiple parties. As with most other types of personal injury claims, determining liability in a motorcycle accident is based on the concept of negligence. You must show that the defendant behaved irresponsibly or negligently and that the behavior caused the accident.
There are four aspects to proving negligence. The first is proving that the defendant had a legal duty of care. All motorists, including motorcycle drivers, have a legal duty to drive in a way that keeps themselves and other people on the road reasonably safe. It is a duty that each driver assumes any time he or she is on the road.
The second aspect is proving that the defendant breached his or her duty in some way. In a motorcycle accident, the defendant breached his or her duty if he or she was driving irresponsibly or dangerously by violating traffic regulations or failing to notice a motorcycle nearby them.
The third part of proving negligence is showing that the defendant’s breach of duty caused your injuries. You must show that the defendant’s negligent actions led directly to your injuries.
The final part is showing the court the extent of your injuries or damage. A medical report is an ideal way to show the severity of your injuries. If your motorcycle was damaged, pictures of the damage or an estimate of the costs to fix it can prove to the court how much damage the accident caused.
Statute of Limitations for Montana Motorcycle Accident Claims
A statute of limitations is the amount of time that the court allows you from the time of the incident to file a claim. For motorcycle accident claims in Montana, the statute of limitations is three years. If you wait longer than three years, the court will most likely dismiss your claim and you will not be able to get compensation for your injuries. If you are considering filing a claim for your accident, contact a Montana motorcycle accident attorney as soon as you can after the incident.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics in the United States
There were 4,976 reported motorcycle fatalities in 2016. Motorcycle fatalities had been declining since the 1980s. In 1998, deaths started to increase, and the number is still slowly increasing today. There was more than twice the number of motorcycle deaths in 2016 as there were in 1997. People driving motorcycles without licenses made up 27% of the fatalities. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for approximately 13% of motor vehicle deaths in 2016.
Hit-and-Run in Montana
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents are common. Motorcycle hit-and-run cases are more difficult if you are not able to find the person responsible for your injury. Recovering damages for the incident is more complicated when there is no specific person a court can order to compensate you.
Some forms of insurance will compensate you for your injuries, even if you are unable to find the responsible party. Uninsured motorist coverage will help you pay for expenses. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, it can cover hospital bills, damage to your motorcycle, and other expenses that the court would usually order the guilty part to pay.
What To Do After a Motorcycle Accident in Montana?
It is important to stay calm after a motorcycle accident. The actions you take immediately following the injury will affect a personal injury claim if you decide to file one. The first thing you should do is call 911. Even if you do not seem to have sustained a serious injury, it is important that you have police officers there to write a report of the incident. Do not leave the scene before the police arrive and do your best to make sure the other people involved wait as well.
Make sure to get the contact and insurance information from anyone who was involved in the accident. You will most likely need to contact them later. Additionally, write down information about the vehicles involved, including the makes, models, and license plates. If there were any witnesses, try to collect their contact information. Your personal injury attorney may want to reach out to them for statements to strengthen your claim.
Document the scene as thoroughly as you can. Take pictures of the scene of the accident, the damaged vehicles, and anything else that could be relevant. It can also help to have pictures of any injuries that you sustained so that you have proof of how severe your injury was immediately after the accident.
Once you have left the scene, get medical attention. Even if you do not have visible injuries and believe that you are okay, see a doctor in case there is an injury that you cannot see or feel. Keep any documents or bills from your medical visits. If you win your case, the court may award you damages for medical expenses.
If you decide that you want to pursue a claim, contact an experienced Montana motorcycle accident lawyer. An insurance company claims adjuster may try to contact you shortly after the accident. It’s important to remember that the insurance company is not on your side. It is trying to settle a claim for the least amount possible. It is a good idea to have a motorcycle accident lawyer represent you and take over all communications with the insurance companies.
Are There Any Laws Requiring Insurance Coverage?
The state of Montana does not have any laws that require motorcycle riders to have insurance. However, it is a good idea to have at least minimum insurance coverage in case anything ever happens to you or your motorcycle. The minimum recommended coverage for the three main types of insurance are: $25,000 for physical injury or death of one person in an accident, $50,000 for physical injury or death of two or more people in an accident, and $20,000 for property damage caused by the accident. It is recommended that motorcyclists carry under- and uninsured motorist coverage to help reduce the financial risk of catastrophic injuries due to the negligence of fellow motorists.
If you decide to get insurance for your motorcycle, it is advisable to have proof of insurance on you in case anything happens. Adequate proof of insurance could be the insurance card your carrier gave you, a self-insurance certificate or card, a cash deposit note or certificate, or a surety bond note or certificate.
Loss of a Loved One in a Motorcycle Accident
Because of the unenclosed operation of motorcycles, motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in deaths than car accidents. If you lose a loved one because of another person’s negligence in a motorcycle accident, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death cases are very different from other personal injury cases. First, there are different rules about who can file the claim. In Montana, there are a variety of regulations depending on the age of the person who died and which family members he or she has who are still alive. If the deceased person was under the age of 18, one or both parents can file a wrongful death claim. If the child’s parents are deceased, the legal guardian has the right to file.
Many people have a difficult time differentiating between a wrongful death claim and a homicide. The crucial difference is that a wrongful death case is a civil case. The family members file and pursue the claim personally and the punishment is monetary. If the state files a criminal homicide case, the punishment can involve time in prison.
Under Montana law, potential damages in wrongful death claims are qualified as either economic or non-economic. Economic damages are based on specific amounts that the court can easily quantify. The court can award economic damages for expenses such as medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and wages that the family lost because their loved one died. Non-economic damages focus on the emotional and mental trauma. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
Is Lane-Splitting Legal in Montana?
Lane-splitting is a controversial topic throughout the United States. Only a few states have legalized the practice, though many motorcycle riders still do it. Lane-splitting is when motorcyclists ride down the white line between lanes of stopped cars or cars that are moving slowly. Motorcyclists often split lanes when there is heavy traffic. Last year, a representative introduced a bill in Montana that would legalize lane-splitting. The bill would allow motorcyclists to drive between lanes of cars if traffic is going slower than 10 mph. The motorcyclists could drive between the cars at a maximum speed of 20 mph. Currently, however, lane-splitting is not legal in Montana.
How Can a Montana Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Help Me?
If you have suffered an injury in a Montana motorcycle accident because of another person’s negligence, you deserve compensation. The attorneys at Kovacich Snipes Johnson, P.C. can help you. We have a proven track record of fighting passionately for our clients and being able to take on extremely difficult, complicated cases. We have been helping Montana residents for over 30 years with many different types of cases. We operate on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay nothing if we don’t win a settlement or judgment for you. We offer free consultations, so you can be sure that we are the best team for you. Contact Kovacich Snipes Johnson, P.C. for more information or skilled representation for your motorcycle accident case.