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Montana Personal Injury Law Blog

Why are you having trouble sleeping?

If you have recently suffered a brain injury in Bozeman, you may be worried about having to deal with long-term cognitive deficits or physical limitations. Such concerns may be enough to keep you up at night. Or are they? Could it be that you are losing sleep (or conversely, are experiencing persistent tiredness and fatigue) not because of your worries about how you will deal with the effects of your brain injury, but rather due to the injury itself?

Information shared by the National Institutes of Health shows sleep disturbances and disorders to be among the most common outcomes of a traumatic brain injury, with 30-70 percent of victims reporting them. The more common disorders reported by TBI victims include:

  •          Insomnia
  •          Hypersomnia
  •          Obstructive sleep apnea
  •          Narcolepsy

Explaining the concept of sovereign immunity

Most in Bozeman may likely assume that whenever one is seriously injured or killed on another’s property, the property owner may be held liable if the conditions or a feature of the property contributed to the event. Montana is renowned for its many state and national parks, the owners of which are the local and federal governments, respectively. In cases where one is killed in such an area, can those entities be named in a liability claim?

Many might automatically assume that government agencies are immune from legal liability in such cases. That assumption seems to be supported by the legal principle of sovereign immunity. This concept (as explained by the Legal Information Institute) makes federal, state and local governments immune from any legal action that such agencies do not consent to. It arises from the English common law notion that one cannot sue the king. However, its application in the U.S. has changed over the years.

What is Comment K?

Your willingness to use manufactured products is likely because of the assumption that their makers put a great deal of thought into their design and safe usage. Unfortunately, as many in Bozeman may have sadly learned, that is not always the case. Product recalls are constantly issued after defects in their design have proven to be harmful to consumers. Yet can you make a claim that a product has a design defect if it is already considered to present inherent risks?

Medications, for example, are designed to suppress or stimulate reactions within your body in order to control or combat pain and/or illness. By doing, this, however, they can also generate unwanted (and potentially dangerous) side effects. The pharmaceutical companies that manufacture drugs are often able to avoid liability claims by citing Comment K from the Restatement (Second) of Torts. This principle (as shared by the Louisiana State University Law School) recognizes the existence of unavoidably unsafe products. In reference to medications in particular, it implies that even when a product comes with a potential risk, the use of it is justified to avoid the consequences of what may happen otherwise. Provided that the product is properly made and offered with usage directions and warnings, it cannot be considered defective or unreasonably dangerous.

Rollover near Logan results in two kids being ejected from car

The use of seatbelts and safety restraints to protect people while driving on Bozeman’s roads is an action that some can easily take for granted and forget to do. Many may believe that their own safe driving skills are enough to protect them from accidents. They then may allow that belief to justify not taking the extra time to ensure that themselves and their passengers are secured before driving. Sadly, it often takes a crash and one sustaining serious injuries to discover the folly in such thinking.

It is always tragic when someone is seriously hurt in a car accident, yet it may be even more so when the victim is a young child. A one-year old ended up being seriously injured after being ejected from a vehicle in an accident near Logan. The infant was riding in a car seat that was unrestrained. So too was the three-year old who also riding in the vehicle, as well as the driver. Fortunately, both of them only sustained minor injuries. Authorities believe the driver overcorrected, which caused the vehicle to roll multiple times. The relationship between the driver and the children was unreported. The infant was flown to a hospital in Utah for treatment.

Examining the warning requirements for disabled vehicles

With more vehicles on Bozeman’s highways thanks to summertime travel comes an increased likelihood of you encountering one stopped on the shoulder or middle of the road. Many have comes to us here at Cok Kinzler PLLP after having been in collisions with disabled vehicles wondering what sort of requirements the drivers of such vehicles have to warn others of their presence. The answer to that question depends largely on the type of vehicle involved.

Montana’s Annotated Code recognizes a need for drivers to be informed of disabled vehicles on the shoulders or lanes of the highway ahead of them. However, the state’s law outlining the requirements for disabled vehicle warnings only applies to the following vehicle types:

  • Motor trucks
  • Passenger buses
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Semitrailers
  • Pole trailers

Reviewing average doctor visit times

The doctors and other clinicians working in the hospitals and medical centers in and around Bozeman have studied their craft for years and supplemented that learning with extensive clinical training. Yet even with all of this acquired expertise, diagnostic errors remain a problem that plagues the American healthcare system. Information shared by the National Center for Policy Analysis shows that some studies indicate that as many as 10-20 percent of cases are misdiagnosed.

How is that providers with so much clinical expertise can error at such an alarming rate? It may not be due to a lack of knowledge, but rather a shortage of an equally as valuable resource: time. The online publication Business Insider reports that in its 2016 Physician Compensation Report, Medscape showed that the most common amount of time that doctors spent with each patient was 13-16 minutes. Considering all that can go into making a diagnosis (asking questions, performing assessments, running diagnostics tests and taking radiological scans), one might question whether a definitive answer regarding what may be ailing a patient can truly be achieved in that time frame.

What are post-traumatic headaches?

If you happen to sustain a concussion, the common school of thought is that the symptoms that accompany it will abate in a few days or, in some extreme cases, a couple of weeks. Yet what if they do not? One of the more common symptoms of a concussion is severe headaches. Oftentimes, concussion victims will complain of chronic headaches months to years after having suffered their initial injuries. This problem is referred to as post-traumatic headaches. If such an issue is plaguing you, then you may be wondering how it could impact your life and career in Bozeman.

According to the website Brainline.org, it was long thought that the root cause of post-traumatic headaches was psychological. However, recent research has shown that that the trauma associated with concussions can cause a disruption of nerve fibers in the brain that effect its function. This damage not only can contribute to chronic headaches, but also many of the other complications associated with post-concussion syndrome. These can ultimately lead to issues that affect your everyday activities, such as:

  •          Difficulty concentrating or maintaining attention
  •          Memory retention issues
  •          An inability to work effectively

City sued in the aftermath of police shooting

When news regarding wrongful death lawsuits breaks in Bozeman, most may likely associate them with claims filed between one private citizen against another. There will also be times when perhaps a company or corporation is named as the defendant in such an action, particularly in workplace accidents involving employees. Yet naming a city as a defendant? Indeed, if city or state officials are viewed as having contributed to one’s death (either through negligence or allegedly reckless action), the city or municipality itself may end up facing a civil action.

This is what is currently happening in a wrongful death lawsuit recently filed on behalf of a family in Ohio. They are alleging wrongdoing against the two local police offers who killed their son in a shootout, citing wrongful death, the use of excessive force, and racial discrimination, and even going so far as to accuse all members of the local police force of recklessly abusing their authority.

Explaining the concept of privity of contract

The general assumption amongst most in Bozeman may be that if a company makes a product that, further down the line of the product's lifecycle, injures someone, then the manufacturer is ultimately responsible. That is what many of those who come to us here ay Cok Kinzler PLLP believe. If you or a family member have been injured due to a product defect, then you will likely want to know how far manufacturer liability goes in compensating cases such as yours.

Often, manufacturers cite the legal concept of "privity on contract" when defending themselves in product liability cases. According to the International Risk Management Institute, this philosophy states that a contract cannot impose duties on a non-contracted party. Likewise, a non-contracted party cannot claim a duty or benefit promised in a contract. Following this line of thinking, you would have to be the purchaser of a product in order to hold the manufacturer liable for any defects.

Understanding seat belt usage liability

As summer approaches, Bozeman residents no doubt look forward to vacationing and enjoying outdoor activities. The inevitable rise in such activities typically means more vehicles on the road, which can increase the risk of traffic accidents. Fortunately, seat belt and safety restraint technology now affords even greater protection to drivers and their passengers. That protection can only be enjoyed, however, if people take advantage of it by using such safety measures.

Information shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that national seat belt usage was up to 90.1 percent in 2016, with usage rates in the western U.S. (in which Montana is included) being slightly above the national average at 93.4 percent. However, it only takes a single incident of one forgetting to use a vehicle safety restraint to leave him, her or a passenger suffering devastating consequences. The question then becomes who is liable if passengers are injured due to not wearing a seat belt: themselves or those driving them?

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Cok Kinzler PLLP
35 North Bozeman Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715

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