Poor Air Quality in Montana? How Does Carpool Liability Work?

Many states across the western United States have been dealing with a severe number of wildfires this summer. California has been fighting the largest fire in the state’s history. A map featured on fireweatheravalanche.org shows the number of wildfires reported across the west and the number is pretty shocking. The smoke from these severe fires has caused poor air quality across many states. Idaho, as well as many other states,  have encouraged residents to stay indoors due to unhealthy air conditions. Two days ago, the Washington Post ran an article detailing the wildfire smoke as it blankets the country.

Here in Montana, we have not been spared from the bad air. An article featured in the Missoulian described an air quality alert which was issued for the entire state. The air quality staff cannot remember a time when all 56 counties across the state have been affected by wildfire smoke all at the same time. The article goes on to mention some outdoor activities that should be avoided because of the poor air quality.

When the air quality is poor, there are some things you should do to protect yourself. Lung.org recommends the following:

  • Avoid outdoor activities. There are some alternatives, for example, walk indoors at a mall or gym. You can also use exercise equipment instead. Limit your exposure to unhealthy air. Especially avoid high traffic areas. These can create more pollution in a specific area.
  • Use less energy in your home. Our electricity consumption leads to increased pollution levels. Pollution levels are only exacerbated by wildfires.
  • Don’t burn wood or trash. These items directly contribute to unhealthy pollution levels.
  • Use hand-powered tools instead of gasoline-powered. Small two-stroke engines can pollute more than a typical
  • Walk, bike or carpool. When we combine trips, this reduces the emissions from cars.

When it comes to carpooling, we sometimes get questions about the liability surrounding carpooling. For example, if you are a passenger in someone else’s car and they get into a serious accident, who will pay for your medical bills? Or if you are driving and get into an accident and you have passengers in your car, do you have to pay their medical bills? These are all excellent questions. Some of the answers to these questions will largely depend on the individual insurance policy. If you have specific questions about an accident, it is always best to speak with a personal injury attorney directly. Your attorney will be able to sort through the specifics and give you a personalized answer for your circumstance.

Generally speaking, the person who caused the accident is responsible for the damages. Whenever you get behind the wheel, you are responsible for the people you are transporting. This means that if you are responsible for the accident, your insurance policy will have to help cover part of the passenger’s medical bills. Most basic insurance policies have an injury component. For example, your policy might have a policy of $100,000 per person up to $300,000. This example is true if you are the passenger as well if you are the passenger and are involved in an accident. The driver’s insurance policy will help pay for your medical bills. You will also have Personal Injury Protection insurance available to you as well.

When the air quality is poor, consider carpooling. It helps reduce overall emissions. If you have any questions about insurance coverage after an accident, speak with an attorney from The Advocates Law Firm. We would be happy to answer your questions.