If you own the surface of property, but not the minerals, and you are negotiating a price for surface damages, the McGrady Law Firm can help. Philip McGrady has handled disputes over surface damages. Under Montana’s surface damages statutes, you have the option of going to court to have a jury or judge determine what is a fair price.

Call for a free initial consultation about what options you have in negotiating prices with oil and gas companies and landmen.

Montana Law On Surface Damages

Montana law gives the surface owner of what’s known as a “split estate” certain rights. If you don’t own the minerals underneath the surface of your property, and you need help in negotiating a fair price for surface damages, contact the McGrady Law Firm. If you are not being treated fairly, a jury of Montanans can determine what is a fair price. That is your right under Montana’s Surface Damages Statute:

Mont. Code Ann. § 82-10-504, “surface damage and disruption payments — dispute resolution,” provides:

(1)(a) The surface owner and the oil and gas developer or operator shall attempt to negotiate an agreement on damages. The oil and gas developer or operator shall pay the surface owner a sum of money or other compensation equal to the amount of damages sustained by the surface owner for loss of agricultural production and income, lost land value, and lost value of improvements caused by oil and gas operations.

(b) The amount of damages may be determined by any formula mutually agreeable between the surface owner and the oil and gas developer or operator. When determining damages, consideration must be given to the period of time during which the loss occurs.

(c) At any time during the negotiation, at the request of either party and upon mutual agreement, the surface owner and the oil and gas developer or operator may enter into a dispute resolution process, including mediation.

(d) The surface owner may elect to receive annual damage payments over a period of time, except that the surface owner must be compensated by a single sum payment for harm caused by exploration only.

(e) The payments contemplated by this subsection (1) may cover only land directly affected by oil and gas operations and production. Payments under this subsection (1) are intended to compensate the surface owner for damage and disruption. A person may not reserve or assign damage and disruption compensation apart from the surface estate except to a tenant of the surface estate.