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Premises Liability

Montana Slip & Falls: Who is at Fault?

July 8, 2019

Slip-and-fall injuries are all too common in Montana. Montana property owners have a legal obligation to keep their premises safe for visitors. If the property owner violates this obligation, resulting in a slip-and-fall, the injured person may be able to seek compensation from them.

However, property owners will often try to avoid blame for dangerous conditions on their property. Under Montana’s laws on comparative negligence, the property owner will likely seek to shift blame onto the injured person. This is why a top-notch Billings premises liability attorney is essential for Montana slip-and-fall victims.

Comparative Negligence in Montana Slip & Fall Cases

Montana uses a comparative negligence model when assigning fault in personal injury or wrongful death cases. This means that fault for an accident can be split between different parties. For a slip-and-fall case, this means the property owner is likely to argue the injured person is at least partially to blame for the accident.

As an example, a jury in a slip-and-fall case could find the injured person (plaintiff) was thirty percent at fault for their injury, while the property owner (defendant) was seventy percent at fault. Perhaps the plaintiff was looking at their phone when they failed to note the dangerous condition. If the plaintiff suffered $100,000 in damages, their award would be reduced by thirty percent, to $70,000.

It is easy to see why property owners will almost certainly seek to blame the injured person for the fall. Under Montana law, the plaintiff will recover no damages at all if they are found to be more than 50% at fault. And any plaintiff’s fault of 50% or less will still reduce the damages award, as in the example above.

Common Landowner Defenses

Common landowner defenses in Montana slip-and-fall cases include the following:

  • The injured person was in a part of the property where visitors were prohibited, or where visitors were not expected.
  • The injured person was not paying adequate attention to where they were walking, perhaps due to distraction from looking at a phone.
  • The dangerous condition causing the fall should have been obvious to the injured person, perhaps because of warning signs or cones.

While these arguments are common, they are rarely airtight defenses for the owner. A Billings premises liability attorney experienced in slip-and-falls can work to overcome these defenses.

Time Limits for Montana Slip & Fall Cases

The time is limited to seek legal compensation for slip-and-falls. For Montana personal injury claims, the legal time limit to file suit, or statute of limitations, is three years from the date of injury. If the lawsuit is filed after this time period, the property owner will be able to have the case dismissed. This is why a person with slip-and-fall injuries should consult with a premises liability lawyer as quickly as possible after the accident.

Speak With a Billings Premises Liability Attorney at Ragain & Clark, PC

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Montana slip-and-fall, consult a Billings premises liability attorney at Ragain & Clark, PC about your legal rights. As seasoned litigators with past experience as defense attorneys, we have the knowledge and skill to fight for your compensation. Contact us right away to see how we can help you.