Whether there is ice on the road, DUI drivers, summer tourists or any number of other road hazards, Montana has its share of auto accidents, despite the wide-open spaces. If you find yourself in the middle of a fender-bender or something more serious, it is natural to lose track of what comes next. You should be aware, however, of the timeline you have for making a settlement.
Medical needs are always the first thing to take care of following an accident. If there are injuries, call 9-1-1, then report the crash to the police. According to FindLaw, Montana law mandates that you contact police immediately and file a written report within 10 days if the accident involves injuries, death or damages estimated at $1,000 or more. The report should be submitted to the state Motor Vehicle Division.
Montana drivers must carry minimum insurance coverage amounts of $25,000 for injuries per person; $50,000 for total injuries per accident; and $20,000 for property damage totals. Drivers without this coverage can be fined and have their license suspended as well.
The driver who causes the crash also carries the responsibility for damages. If that is you, contact your insurer; if the fault lies with another driver, you should file a claim with the driver’s insurance company. If that driver does not have insurance or damages are higher than what you are offered in a settlement, you can opt to file a lawsuit to reclaim the price of repairs and medical attention for any injuries you may have.
If you are unhappy with the settlement process, you can appeal to a claims supervisor at your company or the third-party insurer. If you are still unsatisfied after an appeal, you can submit a complaint to the state commissioner of securities and insurance. This agency does not get involved in settlements but can investigate the process.
Keep an eye on the clock during this process, as Montana limits the time you have to file a lawsuit. For personal injuries, you have three years to file; for property damage, two years. If your claim is denied unfairly or you believe the settlement offer is too low, consider seeking an attorney with expertise in car accidents.
This article on the accident claims process is informational in nature. You should not consider it legal advice.