A personal injury case is a lawsuit filed by an individual against another person, company, or entity for damages. There are essentially three types of personal injury lawsuits in Montana:
- strict liability; and
- intentional wrongs.
In any of these cases, the person filing the suit is known as the plaintiff and the person or entity being sued is called the defendant.
The first type of case is one resulting from the other person’s negligence. Automobile accidents are the basis for many negligence lawsuits, but any act of negligence that causes harm to a person can be the foundation for a suit. For example, if a person was cutting a tree down and it fell on and injured a neighbor, negligence could be found depending on whether the person was acting with reasonable care.
Strict liability is a legal concept that is usually applied in product liability suits. Manufacturers of products are held strictly liable if their product causes harm to a person. In these cases, negligence does not have to be shown. The plaintiff must only show that the product was manufactured or produced in a way that made it unsafe when someone used it as it was meant to be used. For example, a hair dryer that catches fire and burns the user would likely subject the manufacturer to strict liability.
Intentional wrongs can be the basis for a personal injury suit even when there is no intent to do harm. It must only be shown that the person being sued intended to commit the act that caused the harm. For example, if a friend or acquaintance played a practical joke on someone and the person was injured, the friend could be sued for damages that occurred.
Personal injury lawsuits can be filed in either state or federal court. Most are filed in state courts because the legal bases for liability and recovery of damages are usually matters of state law. Once filed, cases proceed according to rules that have been adopted by the state or federal court hearing the case. Although a jury verdict is theoretically the right of a plaintiff filing a lawsuit, many, if not most, lawsuits are disposed of prior to that point through a settlement, withdrawal, or an order by the judge.
If you believe you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, wrongful act, or a product, the attorneys at Tipp & Buley can evaluate your case and provide you with meaningful, expert advice. To schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, please contact our firm online or call our office at 406-389-4215.