Picture this: you throw a dinner party one chilly December night, just before the holidays. As your guests are leaving, one of them slips and falls in your entryway. The person is okay, but they require medical attention. Who pays for it? Is it now a personal injury case? Will the injured party sue? Are you still liable, even if you have liability insurance?
Personal injury law can be confusing, and many homeowners don’t know the rules surrounding injuries that occur on their property. When you understand some basic ins and outs of personal injury law, though, it’s easier to protect yourself and your guests from future litigation.
Slips and Falls Cases in Montana
In Montana, there are a few unique rules governing slip and fall personal injury cases. The first is the “comparative negligence” rule. Under this rule, injured parties are limited in their ability to collect damages if they had some responsibility for the accident. For example, someone who has too much to drink and falls down a flight of stairs, they can’t collect the same damages as someone injured on a legitimate property hazard. This protects property owners from unreasonable claims.
The second governing rule is the statute of limitations. In Montana, the statute of limitations states that injured parties have three years to seek a settlement in the state’s civil court system for a personal injury claim. If the incident only damaged property and caused no injuries, the case must be filed within two years.
Regardless of whether it’s a personal injury case or only affects property, the affected party’s “clock” starts ticking immediately after the accident – on the date the event takes place.
Who can Sue for Slips and Falls?
As a homeowner, it’s a scary idea that virtually anyone who uses your property could sue you for a slip and fall case. Fortunately, that’s not entirely true. Here’s how slip and fall cases work for each of the following groups:
- Guests. You must warn invited guests of any obvious dangers on your property. For example, if you’ve been doing some landscaping and there’s a large hole just off the back deck, near the step, you should inform people as soon as they arrive. If you don’t do this and someone injures themselves in the hole, you could be deemed negligent.
- Customers. If you run a business from your home or a piece of commercial property, you must inform your customers or potential hazards, like slippery floors and snow falling from overhangs. You must also inspect your property regularly and make any needed repairs.
- Trespassers. What happens if someone is injured on your property when they’re not supposed to be there? According to the law, landowners must inform all guests – both invited and uninvited – of any dangers on the property. Fortunately, you can do this by simply posting a sign at the entry to your property. As a landowner, you don’t owe any duty to trespassers to repair or inspect your property for damages – you just cannot intentionally trap or harm trespassers.
When to Get a Lawyer
If you want to learn more about personal injury law, you’ve had someone injured on your property, or you’re merely concerned about knowing your rights if someone does become injured on your property, the first step is to contact a personal injury attorney.
Since personal injury law can be so complicated, hiring a good personal injury attorney is essential. Here at McGrady Law, our team will guide you through your case and help you secure the settlement you deserve.
Contact us today to learn more.