Terrazas Henkel, P.C. Terrazas Henkel, P.C.

Missoula Personal Injury Law Blog

The Glasgow Coma Scale explained

The challenges facing one who was suffered a traumatic brain injury in Missoula have been detailed on this blog in the past. Yet it is important to remember that not every TBI (or its after-effects) are the same. One's long-term prognosis following a TBI will likely have a strong influence on his or her decision (or that of his or her friends or family) to seek compensation to help cover any expenses related to it. According to study data cited by the website brainline.org, 2.8 million people in the U.S. suffer some form of TBI every year. The question is whether there is a way to know what the outcomes of these injuries may be? 

A clinical indicator has been developed to attempt to assess one's TBI prognosis called the Glasgow Coma Scale. This scale measures the responses demonstrated by one who has suffered a TBI in the immediate aftermath of the event. These responses include:

  • Visual
  • Verbal
  • Motor

When uninsured motorists coverage is not enough

Like most in Missoula, you likely assume that all of the other drivers on the road have auto insurance (after all, who would want to drive without it?). However, if and when you are involved in a car accident, you may be unpleasantly surprised to learn that not everyone has such protection. Indeed, data shared by The Insurance Information Institute shows that nearly 10 percent of drivers in Montana do not have auto insurance coverage. Many come to us here at Terrazas Clark Henkel PC after having been involved in accidents with uninsured drivers concerned over who will cover their expenses. Knowing this requires understanding Montana's stance on insurance coverage. 

Montana is a tort state when it comes to auto insurance, meaning the at-fault party is the one that pays. Typically, his or her insurance company would actually be the one to pay, yet if the driver that strikes you is uninsured, then you would simply submit a claim to your own insurer to invoke your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Yet what happens if your coverage limits keep your insurer from paying you all that you need? 

Fatal collision between truck and RV near Missoula

It may go without saying that people in Missoula understand that the only way for teen drivers to develop strong driving skills is to let them drive. The hope is that most new drivers will realize the risks associated with driving recklessly, and thus avoid such activity. Yet research and accident statistics show that teens tend to be more likely to engage in practices that might impair their driving skills, such as drinking while driving, driving at high speeds or traveling at night. Unfortunately, those who do endanger not just themselves, but everyone on the road around them. 

Excessive speed indeed does appear to have been a factor in a recent accident involving a teen driver on I-90 near Missoula. The young man reportedly sped up as his truck approached a construction zone were traffic was merging into single lane. He lost control and veered into the oncoming lanes, striking an RV carrying eight passengers. The teen sustained non-life threatening injuries in the accident; the driver of the RV was taken to a local hospital in critical condition. An elderly passenger in the RV was killed in the collision, while the remaining passengers also required medical treatment. 

Understanding your visitor classification

When accidents occur on private property in Missoula, the common assumption is that the property owner is liable. That is what many of those that we here at Terrazas Henkel, P.C. have worked with come to us believing. If you share the same assumption, then you should know that your status on another's property plays a significant role in determining the duty of care that a property owner owes to you. 

How do you determine your status? Typically, you know whether or not you are welcome on another's property. Still, according to Insurance Regulatory Law, there are specific distinctions defining different types of visitors (as well as how far a property owner must go to protect them). These are: 

  • Trespassers
  • Licensees
  • Invitees

Safety first at Montana State Parks

In the spring of 2018, Montana State Parks released a statement announcing the "temporary emergency closure for Smith River State Park due to unsafe floating conditions." The notice went on to explain how ice continued to jam some areas of the Smith River, creating an extreme hazard for anyone on the water. 

The Parks division was doing its due diligence to protect the public on its premises, and in this extreme case, prohibited entrance to the property because of extraordinarily dangerous conditions. Staff members at state parks recognize their responsibility for the safety of the public and the liability for incidents that happen on the premises. They also encourage the public to be aware of ever-changing conditions in the natural environments they oversee.

4 steps to take if you're involved in a car accident

Even the safest drivers can find themselves involved in car accidents. In this case, knowing how to react in the aftermath is essential. Taking the right steps can help mitigate injuries while also ensuring you're prepared in the event you need to make an accident claim. In order to provide Montana drivers with the right information, Allstate.com offers the following advice.

1. Check on Yourself & Your Passengers

A Guide to Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a very serious condition that can have lasting health effects. In some cases, long term treatment may be required and for some injury victims it's impossible to return to their former state. The following includes the common causes of TBI and the different types of complications can occur.

According to the Mayo Clinic, TBI has a number of different causes. Car accidents are a leading cause due to acceleration at high speeds. Motorcyclists are also prone to experiencing significant injuries, especially when riding without a helmet. Falls are another concern. Older people are often more prone to falls as a result of decreased mobility and declining vision. Additionally, elderly people tend to suffer more severe injuries as a result of falls, with sometimes devastating consequences.

Driving uninsured: the cost

No matter the severity, car accidents can be frightening, to say the least. After all is said and done, Montana drivers are often left in a confused state in regard to the steps that ensue. What will happen to monthly insurance premiums? Will those premiums increase, even when a driver was not at fault? What if there was no insurance to begin with?

As educational resource HowStuffWorks explains, most states require all drivers to have automobile liability insurance; however, this does not stop countless Americans from hitting the roads uninsured. In fact, HowStuffWorks uses a study to show that one out of every drivers is uninsured. Some might argue on the reason for this statistic, but many point toward a tight economy that leaves some drivers with limited financial options. Penalties for driving uninsured may vary from state to state.

Explaining negligent entrustment

Every day, new drivers take to Missoula's streets looking to increase their skills to the point of joining the ranks of Montana's responsible motorists. Most (having once been in the same position themselves) understand that new drivers need time to acclimate themselves to the road. Thus, they may be willing to give teen motorists a little leeway. Yet statistics show that teen drivers have been proven to present heightened risks to those on the road around them. Indeed, information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that while those age 15-19 only account for 7 percent of the population in the U.S., they account for a whopping 11 percent of the country's car accident injury expenses. 

Those injured in accidents with teen drivers might find themselves in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, they may want to try to be understanding. On the other, their accident expenses (which can often exceed even that which insurance is willing to cover) may not allow them to do so. However, teens typically have little in the way of resources. Therefore, those needing compensation following accidents that teen drivers cause may be forced to try and make the teens' parents liable. 

What is comparative negligence?

Turn on the news in Missoula, and you are likely to hear at least one story detailing a lawsuit in which a large settlement was given. If you been the victim of another's recklessness and are thinking of seeking such a settlement yourself, you may first want to understand the standard by which negligence is measured, and how it can effect what you can recover. 

For many years, most states in the U.S. followed the philosophy of contributory negligence. This meant that if your own decisions or actions contributed in any way to your accident, you were barred from seeking damages. Say that you slipped on an icy surface and injured yourself. Immediately you might assume that the property owner who allowed the surface to ice over would be totally at fault. Yet what if you saw the icy surface and thought it might be fun to run and slide across it. Your decision to do contributed to your falling, which (according to the idea of contributory negligence), would have kept you from seeking action.