If you drive the roads of Montana, you are at risk of being injured in a car accident. Slick roads, short-winter days, low visibility, driver inattention, driver fatigue, deer and large animals, alcohol…the list of factors which cause or contribute to car accidents goes on and on. Philip McGrady, based in Whitefish, is a Montana personal injury lawyer who has handled a wide variety of car accidents all across the state of Montana.
Montana Car Accidents by the Numbers
A 2015 Montana Department of Transportation Study found that Montana’s roadway fatalities were up by 32 in 2015 compared to 2014 (224/192). The study also found that ten year (2006-2015) average number of Montana roadway fatalities to be 224. Montana’s 2015 fatality rate (number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) was 1.81. Montana’s fatality rate continued to be higher than the national rate of approximately 1.12, according to the study.
The State Farm insurance company did a report which ranked Montana number 2 in the nation for wildlife versus car collisions for 2016, according to the Billings Gazette.
Not surprisingly, Montanans like their cars. There are a little over a million of us living in Montana according to the 2016 Census. But there were over 1.4 million “light vehicles” registered in the state of Montana in 2016. And there were an additional 58,000 “heavy trucks” registered in Montana.
According to the Montana DOT study, there were a total of 22,369 reported crashes during 2015 bringing the five-year annual average to 20,913. The summary of 2015 crash details includes 786 serious injury crashes and 204 fatal crashes or 22% of all crashes reported.
The point is, while not the same conditions as driving in and around large cities, you’re still at risk of being in an auto accident when you drive the roads of Montana. No matter the cause of the car accident, whether negligence, inattentive driving, or alcohol-related, traffic accidents cause injuries requiring medical treatment.
The injuries from a car accident can be life changing. The weeks or months following the accident can be the most trying. To compound the physical and emotional impact of the car accident, you may be also dealing with the insurance adjuster for a negligent driver. Your interests are better served letting a lawyer handle these negotiations, and you should not hesitate to contact the McGrady Law Firm.
Know Your Entitlements
First you should distinguish between property damage and physical injury. Establishing property damage in regards to the vehicle is relatively straightforward. If the vehicle can be repaired, the damages are the costs of repair. If the vehicle has been totaled, the damages are fair market value. Determining fair market value is not always straightforward.
Past Medical Bills
The first big area of personal injury damages is the costs of past medical bills. This can be determined by requesting an itemized bill from each hospital, treating physician, and other healthcare provider that has rendered services to the injured person due to injuries sustained as a result of the motor vehicle accident. The past medical expenses should be based on the actual charges for the services rendered, not the amount paid by the health insurance carrier, which is typically a significantly discounted rate.
Future Medical Bills
This element of damages is generally established by the testimony of a treating physician. Basically, the treating physician’s testimony should establish why you will need continued treatment in the future and what type of treatment will be needed.
Packed within the lost earnings category are variations such as past lost income, future lost income, and loss of earning capacity. Establishing these types of damages can be done with tax returns, 1099s, testimony from employers, and experts.
In tort law, “general damages” means things like emotional distress, and pain and suffering. These damages are more difficult to calculate. Unlike “special damages,” such as medical expenses, there is a corresponding bill. Calculating general damages is fact specific, and having the assistance of an attorney with experience calculating these damages will go a long way.
Get Your Needs Met
You should contact a Montana lawyer with experience handling car accidents, whether it’s through pre-trial settlement or going to trial.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident anywhere in Montana, whether it’s Kalispell, Columbia Falls, Dillon, Butte, Glasgow, Great Falls, Billings, or Missoula, the McGrady Law Firm can meet your needs.