Montana Negligence Laws

Most personal injury cases hinge on the legal theory of "negligence," whereby an individual who owes a duty to another fails to exercise a certain degree of care, causing injury. For instance, a restaurant whose cook fails to check the temperature of a roasted chicken may be held negligent for the diners' resulting food poisoning.

General Negligence Law

There are several elements of a negligence case you must prove in court in order for your negligence claim to be successful:

  • Duty: the other party owed you a duty of care;
  • Breach of Duty: the other party failed to meet that duty;
  • Cause in Fact: but for the other party’s failure, you would not have been injured;
  • Proximate Cause: the other party’s failure (and not something else) caused your injury; and
  • Damages: you have actually been injured and suffered some loss.

Montana Negligence Laws

Montana negligence laws follow the doctrine of comparative negligence which means that the person asking for damages in a lawsuit has to be less responsible for the accident than the person who allegedly caused the accident.

For example, if you're in a car accident and the other driver is asking you to pay for his damages, he has to be less responsible for the accident than you are.If a jury believes that him straying into your lane is a bigger cause of the accident than your speed, he may not be able to recover damages. However, if a jury finds that the accident would have been avoided if you were driving slower, you may have to pay damages.

51-Percent Bar Rule

In the United States, several states follow the 51-percent Bar Rule under which a damaged party cannot recover if it is 51-percent or more at fault. However, the damaged party can recover if it is 50 percent or less at fault, but that recovery would be reduced by its degree of fault. Montana is one of these states.

The following chart highlights some of the main provisions of Montana's negligence laws. See Negligence: Background for a general overview.

Code Section §27-1-702
Modified Comparative Negligence

51 Percent Bar: Claimant's negligence does not bar recovery if less than that of defendants. Damages diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable.

Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery N/A
Contribution Among Tortfeasors Yes; §27-1-703
Uniform Act No

Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through legislation, ballot initiative, or court ruling -- contact a Montana personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law:

Montana Right to Work Laws : Related Resources

What Are Your Next Steps? Get a Free Case Review 

As you can see with the 51-percent Bar Rule, Montana's negligence laws can be complicated. However, if you were hurt in an accident and aren't sure who was at fault or who was more at fault, a personal injury attorney can tell you how Montana's negligence laws might apply in your case. Start the process today by contacting a personal injury attorney in Montana who can provide you with a free initial review of your case.

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