No Formula for Injury Claims

If someone has been hurt in a Montana car accident, there really is no formula for calculating how much they’ve lost, and what their damages probably are. I hear figures from clients sometimes (multiply the medical bills by 2 or 3), but I’m never sure where exactly those rumors get started.

The truth is that there’s no easy way to calculate what an injury claim is worth. That’s why it’s so important that you speak with a Montana accident attorney about your situation, so they can help you with the process and guide you down all the paths you’ve never traveled before. I can help you think through the situation and make sure everything gets accounted for.

I am admitted to practice law in the state of Montana, so I can’t speak for other states (although I think this is a relatively safe statement across the board). But our laws are complex enough, and involve so many variables, that any efforts to determine damages (compensatory or punitive) based on a simple formula and misguided at best and often dangerous. A skilled Montana personal injury lawyer can account for all the different law and calculate the variables to ensure that you get the best possible result. A simple calculator won’t do that.

Accident claims don’t turn back time, and they don’t undo the harm that a victim has experienced. But, if we do it right, at least the injured person gets back to a functioning position. And from there, it’s maybe a little easier to move on with life. Fair compensation for someone else’s negligence isn’t just equitable, it’s the law in Montana. If you’ve been the victim of negligence and would like to discuss your situation with a Montana injury attorney, please call me today at (406) 752-6373.

Punitive Damages in Montana

Before, I discussed compensatory damages in Montana. The idea behind compensatory damages is to put the victim in the position he would have been in if the injury had never happened. So if you’ve been in a car accident, the compensatory damages are intended to make it like the accident never happened. Part of your car accident lawyer’s job is to help you completely ascertain the amount of those compensatory damages so that you receive the full amount to which you are entitled.

Punitive damages in Montana are another story. Under Montana law, the purpose of punitive damages is to have an impact on the defendant in the form of punishment and deterrence. In some cases, the defendant’s conduct is so unacceptable that they should be punished for their actions.

Montana law allows for punitive damages where the defendant is guilty of actual malice. A defendant acts with malice if he has knowledge of facts or intentionally disregards facts that create a high probability of injury to the plaintiff and proceeds to act in disregard or indifference to the high probability of injury. Under Montana law, a plaintiff must prove punitive damages with clear and convincing evidence.

Punitive damages aren’t necessarily tied to the loss that the plaintiff sustained. Instead, they are sometimes measured against what amount will encourage the defendant to act differently in the future. So, while the net worth of a defendant can not be considered when deciding whether punitive damages should be imposed, it is a valid consideration when deciding what size of punitive damages are appropriate.