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

Missoula Personal Injury Law Blog

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. 

Drunk driving continues to plague Montana

Montana may be the land of big sky and a seemingly endless array of natural beauty but it is also a land where drunk drivers appear extremely reluctant to get the message that they should not operate vehicles after consuming alcohol. 

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the number of people killed in all motor vehicle accidents statewide dropped quite considerably from 224 in 2015 to 190 in 2016. Unfortunately, the number of people killed by drunk drivers between those two years went up. In 2015, the state saw 76 people killed at the hands of drunk drivers. In 2016, that number rose to 85.

Does Montana law require uninsured motorist coverage?

It is easy to devalue the protection offered by auto insurance coverage because the hope is that you will never have to use it. Because many do not appreciate its value, they only secure the bare minimum required by state law. If you use this same logic when arranging your coverage, then you may also assume, like many, that your policy includes uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Yet does it?

According to Section 33-23-201 of Montana's Annotated Code, insurance carriers are required to offer you uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage when you first apply. However, you are not required to carry it. The law does require that you reject it in writing, yet consider how much your delve into the fine print of your insurance contract. Unless you were specifically searching for uninsured/underinsured coverage, you could have overlooked it. 

Understanding the attractive nuisance doctrine

As winter gives way to spring in Missoula, kids will no doubt take to the outdoors en masse to resume the many activities they miss out on during the colder months. Parents, of course, hope that their kids have good enough judgment to avoid playing in or around areas that might be dangerous, yet in many cases, that expectation may be unrealistic. Children (for the most part) simply do not have the same level of discernment adults do. Therefore, the responsibility to protect them from dangerous places falls to the parents and (somewhat surprisingly) property owners. 

The attractive nuisance doctrine recognizes that children often cannot appreciate the dangers that a property (or a feature found therein) may present, and thus assigns liability to property owners who do not protect them from the risks such features pose. Rulings from the Supreme Court of Montana show that the state follows the elements established in the Second Restatement of Torts when applying this doctrine to a case, namely: 

  • That a property owner understands his or her land (or a feature of it) is likely to attract children
  • That said land or feature can potentially cause a child's death or serious injury
  • That children are unlikely to comprehend the danger said land or feature poses
  • That the costs of protecting kids from said land or feature is slight compared to the risks it poses

Tennis player claims negligence in locker room accident

Determining damages in a slip-and-fall lawsuit can be difficult. When one is injured in such a case in Missoula, the impact that it can have may as small as having to miss a couple of days of work to as extensive as having the quality of his or her life affected. Then, of course, there is the emotional pain and suffering that must be considered. Deciding how much a plaintiff may be entitled to could potentially be more difficult then assigning negligence

A jury reportedly had little trouble doing that in a lawsuit that was recently heard against the United States Tennis Association. The organization is being used by a professional player who slipped and fell at in the locker room during the 2015 U.S Open following her doubles match. She apparently slipped on cleaning solution that had been left on the floor. Her attorney argued that the UTSA was negligent in not having its staff keep the floor clear of such risks; the UTSA countered by saying that the woman had entered the locker room after normal operating hours. 

What is the car accident settlement process in Montana?

Whether there is ice on the road, DUI drivers, summer tourists or any number of other road hazards, Montana has its share of auto accidents, despite the wide-open spaces. If you find yourself in the middle of a fender-bender or something more serious, it is natural to lose track of what comes next. You should be aware, however, of the timeline you have for making a settlement.

Medical needs are always the first thing to take care of following an accident. If there are injuries, call 9-1-1, then report the crash to the police. According to FindLaw, Montana law mandates that you contact police immediately and file a written report within 10 days if the accident involves injuries, death or damages estimated at $1,000 or more. The report should be submitted to the state Motor Vehicle Division.

What is the real reason for most semi truck accidents?

At times, accidents on the road can seem inevitable. When large trucks are involved, the situation can become all the more dangerous. While many Montana drivers do not think twice about the daily work schedules of semi truck drivers, this line of work is not an easy one. Why does this industry create hazards for workers across the nation? 

The general size of a semi truck can make it more dangerous alongside smaller vehicles, but ABC News took a step further last year and claimed that the trucking industry was the most deadly occupation. According to the most recent data from the Labor Department, more truck drivers were injured than workers in any other occupation -- having reached the unsettling number of 852 fatalities. The American Truckers Association has worked to reduce the number of fatal accidents, which, as ABC notes, have actually declined in the last three years. Despite the recent increase of trucking employment, that number has dropped by 2 percent.