How Do You Determine Negligence in a Montana Slip and Fall Case?
Law students spend a large portion of the first year of law school learning about all sorts of different torts intentional or otherwise. However, in practice, most cases of personal injury are based on negligence.
Common law negligence has evolved over the centuries to include four elements.
1. Duty – The plaintiff must show that the defendant owed her a duty of care.
2. Breach – The defendant must have breached the duty of care owned to the plaintiff.
3. Injury – The plaintiff must have been injured (bodily harm or property damage).
4. Proximate Cause – Defendant’s breach must have caused plaintiff’s injuries directly.
In slip and fall cases in Montana, the negligence standard applied to property owners is complex and fact-dependent. Montana does not follow a common law guest classification system of business invitees and trespassers like other states including Utah.
In the 1980s, the Montana Supreme Court advocated a simple reasonableness standard of care for property owners.
As the years have passed, Montana’s landowner liability has come to be defined by statute. Montana has several statutory provisions for property safety including rules for landlords, and those with ditches on the property. Furthermore, the Montana courts have continued to articulate different standards for different situations – like snow banks, versus shoveled driveways.
When the issue of who is the fault for the accident is based so much statutory construction and case-law interpretation, it is always best to have an attorney who has been admitted to the Montana bar evaluate your case.
The cases can differ immensely depending on the facts. For example, the statute may or may not an indicator of negligence per se. You may have to prove negligence independently. Only an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand the ramifications of your specific fact situations. Attorney’s at the advocates are available 24-7 for free consultations.