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If I am partly at fault, can I still bring an injury claim?

After a serious car accident, victims are often groping for answers. If you were injured and the other driver was at fault, you may be entitled to monetary damages. But in many accidents the investigation will reveal that both drivers were partly at fault. Does that prevent you from making a claim in Montana? It depends.

In Montana, if you are partly at fault in an auto accident you may still be able to bring a claim for injuries against another negligent driver. Montana has a "comparative fault" law that applies to auto accidents. Under this law, the jury in an accident case is instructed to assign a percentage of fault to each driver. If the jury finds the individual suing for damages was 51% at fault or more, that individual does not collect any damages. If the party suing is 50% or less at fault they can collect, but their recovery is reduced by their percentage of fault.

For example, let's say Driver 1 and Driver 2 are involved in a collision. Driver 1 is injured and sues Driver 2. The jury concludes that Driver 1 was 40% at fault in the accident and Driver 2 was 60% at fault. The jury also concludes that Driver 1 has suffered damages in the amount of $100,000. Driver 1 can collect from Driver 2, but the court will reduce his or her recovery by 40%, resulting in a recovery of $60,000.

The result is very different if the percentages are reversed. Let's assume Driver 1's percentage of fault was 60% and Driver 2's percentage was 40%, and that Driver 1 has suffered $100,000 in damages. In that scenario, Driver 1 cannot collect any damages, because their fault was greater than Driver 2's.

The information in this post is intended as general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you have questions about whether you can recover damages from an automobile accident, it is best to consult an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: Montana Legislative Services, Montana Code Ann. § 27-1-702, accessed Aug. 25, 2014

Source: Montana Legislative Services, Montana Code Ann. § 27-1-702, accessed Aug. 25, 2014

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