Montana Car Accident Laws

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In Montana, you need to report car accidents to both the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) and the police. You’ll also need to file a report with your insurance company if you want to claim damages or have your medical bills reimbursed.
Maybe you’re on the way home from work or headed to the grocery store. You glance away from the road for just one second to change the radio and bam! Your life has forever changed because of a car accident. Brush up on your state’s car accident laws so you can always be prepared.
You’ll need to contact your car insurance company after an accident, but what else is there to do? Jerry, the car insurance brokerage app, has compiled a guide on car accidents in Big Sky Country—including who is responsible, what to do if a lawsuit is filed, and the meaning behind Montana’s comparative fault laws. We'll even help you find the cheapest Montana car insurance costs.

What to do after a crash: Montana car accident reporting laws

The first thing to do after a car accident is to check to see if you and your passengers are safe. You should also move your vehicle away from a spot that could cause another accident if possible. Next, call 911 to report the accident and to get help for anyone who was injured.
Document the crash in as many ways as you can—recording your statement as to what happened, taking photographs of the damage, and drawing a diagram of where the vehicles ended up. You’ll also need to exchange insurance information with the other driver as well as vehicle information—like make, model, and license plate.
What about the actual reporting part? You’ll need to report a car accident in Montana three times:
  • To emergency services
  • To the MVD
  • To your insurance company
Here’s a little more information on the Montana laws that govern car accident reporting.

When to report an accident to the police

You need to be quick when reporting a car accident in Montana to the police. The law requires drivers to notify the police through the quickest means possible, which usually means a cell phone. You must report an accident to the police if any of the following is true:
  • Property damage exceeds $1,000
  • A vehicle struck the body of a deceased person
  • Someone was injured or killed in the accident
The only exception is if you’re unable to report an accident due to an injury. Reporting an accident quickly can help you file your insurance report or to file a lawsuit if necessary. 
If law enforcement doesn’t file an accident report with the MVD, it is the driver’s responsibility to do so.

When to report an accident to the MVD

Drivers have a little more time when reporting an accident to the MVD—10 days. The criteria for reporting an accident to the police and the MVD are almost the same:
  • Property damage exceeds $1,000
  • Someone was injured
  • Someone was killed
If law enforcement has filed the report with the MVD, you do not need to do it again. You will have to check if the report was filed, though, because ultimately the driver is responsible for filing the report. 
You cannot file a report online. Instead, you’ll need to send form HQ-1598 to the following address:
Montana Highway Patrol
18 Trooper Drive
Boulder, MT 59632
You’ll need certain information like the date and time of the accident, vehicle information of all the parties involved, and whether or not any injuries were apparent. You’ll also need to draw a diagram of the accident. 

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: Montana’s insurance laws

Montana requires all motorists to purchase car insurance for their vehicles. Montana car insurance laws dictate that drivers must carry a minimum of 25/50/20 liability coverage, which is:
If you’re caught driving without insurance in Montana, you could have to pay a fine, get points on your license, spend time in jail, or have your license revoked. Driving without insurance also affects your eligibility for claiming damages through insurance or a personal injury lawsuit.
A 2019 study by the Insurance Information Institute (III) found that 8.5% of drivers in Montana are uninsured—even with these potential consequences. Thankfully that means 91.5% of drivers do have insurance, and hopefully, you’re one of them. 
Carrying insurance doesn’t automatically mean your costs are covered, though—you may need to purchase additional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in case the other driver in the accident doesn’t have adequate insurance. Insurance companies are required to offer this coverage, although you aren’t required to accept it.

Claiming damages after an accident: Montana’s personal injury laws

Insurance companies try to pay out as little as possible, which may not be enough for you. You might need to file a personal injury lawsuit to collect all the damages you need. A lawsuit allows you to collect both economic and non-economic damages.
  • Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, lost employment or business opportunities, loss of property, and burial expenses.
  • Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, and humiliation.
Montana’s statute of limitations is pretty average—anyone involved in an accident has three years to file a suit for injuries and two years to file a suit for property damage.

Exceptions to Montana’s personal injury laws

Montana makes very few exceptions for claiming damages from a car accident and has even fewer instances where the statute of limitation could be extended
The biggest exception to Montana’s personal injury laws is if the injured party was a minor at the time of the accident. The statute of limitations doesn’t begin until that person turns 18, so if someone was injured at age 11, they would have almost ten years to file an injury lawsuit.

Who’s to blame: Montana’s modified comparative negligence law

There’s a lot of money at stake after a car accident, who exactly is to blame in Montana? If Rachel makes an illegal u-turn and is hit by Ethan, who just ran a red light, which one of them is at fault?
Montana is a modified comparative negligence state, which means you can claim damages up to the percentage you contributed to the accident as long as that amount doesn’t exceed 50%. 
Continuing our example, let’s say Rachel is 49% responsible and Ethan is 51% responsible. Rachel can claim damages up to 51%, but Ethan cannot claim anything because he is over 50% responsible for the accident. 
Montana’s modified comparative negligence laws encourage drivers to stay safe and avoid risky driving behaviors. Remember that your state’s liability laws don’t follow you around, so if you find yourself involved in an accident outside of Montana, you’ll be under that state’s laws.

How to save money on car insurance in Montana

Unfortunately, a car accident in Montana could raise your insurance premiums by 35% to 80%. It can be difficult to get your rates back down, but there are some easy ways to save on your insurance even after the unthinkable. Take using Jerry, for example.
Jerry is a licensed insurance broker who’s partnered with over 50 car insurance companies across the nation. Just download the app, enter your information, and let Jerry work its magic. In less than two minutes you’ll be browsing incredible quotes tailored to your specifications—all without filling out long forms or getting put on hold.
Once you’ve chosen your favorite quote, Jerry’s expert team takes care of the rest, leaving you more time to recover from your accident. When it’s all said and done, the average user saves over $800 per year on car insurance. 
Jerry was spot on. I’m young with one rear end on my record. Still, they dropped my monthly insurance rate from $468 to $250. This really saved me money.” —Jason M.
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