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Montana Personal Injury Law Blog

Don't fall victim to common accidents this summer

The days are long and the nights are warm again. It's summertime in Montana and everyone is eager to get outside and enjoy our beautiful, massive landscape. Accidents happen, though. Keep that in mind in the coming months when you're out at the grill, going off-road on the ATV or heading out for a weekend.

Activities we do every summer can result in injuries and worse. Remember to have an action plan ready if you suffer an accident. It could save your life, or the life of someone you care about.

Air ambulance costs are an expensive part of serious injuries

The scenery is pristine as you and your outfit rumble up the mountains. The engine of your ATVs is the only sound that interrupts the peace of the moment. Led by your guide, your group embarks up a steep path knowing that the trail will be rough, but the view on the other side will be magnificent. As you make your way up the face of the mountain, you come across a particularly rough patch. You're not sure if you should keep going with your ATVs or hike the rest of the way. Suddenly, your partner gives their ATV a little too much gas and they roll.

You and your guide rush over to them, and you quickly realize that their injuries are serious. The only way out from this far away from civilization is to call an air ambulance. Tense minutes pass until you hear rotors in the distance. Your partner leaves packed away to be delivered to the hospital, and in return arrives an air ambulance bill for tens of thousands of dollars.

Don't underestimate the toll a crash can take on your life

Imagine you are driving home from work. You are tired, hungry and ready to relax for a few minutes before making dinner for your kids. Suddenly, everything goes dark. After a few moments, you realize your car is stopped and you have been hit by another vehicle.

In the span of a few seconds, your world can be turned upside down if you are seriously injured in an accident. In fact, a crash can affect every part of your life.

Polaris still struggling with recalls as riding season approaches

Although it may not feel like it with snow still on the ground, spring is on the way. Whether it comes in like a lion or a lamb in March, the rising temperatures mean favorite outdoor pastimes are within sight, and ATV and OHV riding is a popular pastime for many Montana residents.

With thousands of miles of trails winding through picturesque state forests and up mountains, there is something wonderful and freeing about riding an off road vehicle in the wilderness. However, Polaris owners should take note of any recalls and have the vehicles serviced before hitting the trails.

Drowsy driving makes for dangerous roads

Have you ever been behind a vehicle that's moving around the lane like a bowling ball bouncing off the bumpers? Your first thought might be that it's a drunk driver; however, it could be a sleep-deprived driver.

AAA released a report that found drivers who sleep just five or six hours in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to crash as a driver who gets seven hours or more of sleep. Depriving a driver of sleep leads to slower reaction time, decreased accuracy of responses, and long lapses in attention. Drivers who get only four or five hours of sleep have four times the crash rate-similar to an alcohol-impaired driver.

How many people suffer traumatic brain injuries per year?

Many injuries cause a tremendous amount of suffering, from an incredible amount of discomfort and pain to lifelong problems with reduced mobility. However, those which involve the brain are especially concerning. To make matters worse, it can be difficult to detect brain injuries and some people suffer for years without knowing that hitting their head caused a TBI. In Bozeman, and across all of Montana, it is pivotal for those with head injuries to look into their options, especially if someone's negligence caused the injury.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that roughly 2.8 million were hospitalized, passed away, or visited an emergency room due to a traumatic brain injury over the course of 2013. These injuries occur in many ways, from playground accidents to mishaps on construction sites and slipping on wet surfaces. For the victims of traumatic brain injuries, life may be transformed for the worse in a myriad of ways. Brain injuries can get in the way of one's ability to perform their job duties, enjoy activities, and even maintain relationships with loved ones. Because of the serious nature of these injuries, looking at all avenues to move forward is essential, even legal action, in some cases.

What is a survival action?

The anguish and stress that comes with seeing a loved injured in Bozeman is often compounded by the responsibility placed on you to care for him or her going forward. The expenses associated with such care may leave you with little choice but to seek compensation on his or her behalf from the party responsible for his or her injuries. Yet initiating such action may add further stress to your situation given that it is impossible to know what the future holds. What if, for example, your loved one dies before his or her case is resolved? 

Suddenly, you are left fighting for someone who is no longer living. Does such a fight stop with his or her death? According to Section 27-1-501 of Montana's Annotated Code, the answer to that question is no. This statute clearly state's that any action does not abate with the death of the party on whose behalf it was initiated. Rather, it transfers to you and/or his or her other representatives. 

Considering a settlement in your case

If and when you or someone in Bozeman that you care about is injured by a defective product, you may immediately assume that a large judgment is coming your way from the product's manufacturer. Many of those that we here at Cok Kinzler PLLP have worked with in the past who have suffered similar injuries share the same assumption. They quickly learned, however, that such cases are not always so cut-and-dry. 

The Insurance Information Institute lists product liability claims as being the fourth most common element that companies fear. They worry about the damage that such cases can do to their reputations, which often motivates them to settle claims before they go to court. You should never feel pressured into accepting a settlement simply because doing so would be more convenient for all of the parties involved in your case. At the same time, you may want to ask yourself some questions before dismissing an offer altogether, namely: 

  • How strong is your case? You might view your claim as being a slam dunk, but be prepared for a defendant to challenge your actions and intent should your case go to trial. 
  • What is the local jury climate like? Some areas might be more prone to juries comprised of members that view lawsuits as frivolous and unwarranted. 
  • How badly do you need money right now? If they believe it to be in their best interest, a manufacturer may choose to allow a dispute to go to court. That means a lengthier process and loftier legal fees associated with it. 

Playgrounds and brain injuries

If you have children who are in school, you could have many concerns. For example, you might be worried about bullying or their performance in the classroom. However, there are other potential problems that parents should watch out for, such as the risk of brain injuries on the playground and elsewhere. Playground accidents are responsible for many of the brain injuries that children suffer, but there are other hazards they may come across in school and elsewhere, such as wet floors. As a parent, it can be very unsettling to find out that your child has suffered a brain injury, but you should not give up.

Sadly, brain injuries can affect children in many ways. Sometimes, these injuries can have lasting consequences, such as memory problems and other complications. Moreover, an injury may interfere with their schooling and may not even be evident until some point in the future. As a result, parents should do whatever they can to reduce the chances of this problem, such as talking with their kids and identifying problem areas.

Piecing your life together after a Thanksgiving crash

Each year, families across the country come together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, this holiday can also increase the likelihood of a motor vehicle wreck happening. If you were hurt in an accident that occurred on Thanksgiving, your life may have been overturned in multiple ways. Perhaps you are reading this post in a hospital bed or maybe you have recently returned home. Either way, it is vital to know your rights and pursue any tools that can help you recover.

Auto accidents can be incredibly difficult regardless of the time of year they take place. When crashes occur on a holiday, they can ruin celebrations for the entire family, generate a lot of emotional pain, create financial hardships, leave victims with serious injuries, and even claim lives. Sadly, these accidents can be particularly problematic during the holidays because of drunk drivers, poor weather, and an increased amount of traffic on the road, among other factors. If a reckless driver has soured your Thanksgiving celebrations by causing a crash, you should look into all of you options.

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Cok Kinzler PLLP
35 North Bozeman Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715

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