Montana Court Records
What is a Tort Case and What does it Involve in Montana?
A tort claim is a legal action seeking restitution for a civil wrong. A claim can be filed by a person, business, or the government against other similar parties when the perpetrated act caused personal, emotional, or financial injury or loss. Typically, a person may file a claim when extrajudicial procedures such as mediation fail to resolve a case. In Montana, the District Courts and Limited Jurisdiction Courts (City, Municipal, and Justice Courts) have jurisdiction to hear tort claims. Also, the District Courts have sole authority to hear claims against the state. The Limited Jurisdiction Courts can only handle claims up to a particular dollar amount ($12,000 or less).
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
What is Montana Tort Law?
Typically. the tort law in the U.S. States guides the legal processes of filing injury claims and receiving compensation in the state courts, including the court with jurisdiction, the statute of limitations, liability of defendants, and restrictions or caps to damages recoverable by plaintiffs. The tort law in the State of Montana is no different and is outlined in the Montana Code. The law describing the civil liability, remedies, and limitations of tort claims is Title 27, MCA. Also, the Rules of Civil Procedure and specific court rules oversee the execution of judicial proceedings.
What Kinds of Cases are Covered by Tort Law in Montana?
In Montana, tort claims can be filed because of a deliberate, careless, or strict liability action that caused personal injury or property damage. These types of claims include:
- Wrongful death
- Slip and fall
- Asbestos claims
- Emotional distress inflicted deliberately or negligently
- Malicious prosecution
- False imprisonment
- Car accident (including vehicle damage)
- Airplane crashes
- Work-related accidents
- Defective product
- Premise liability
- Medical and legal malpractice
- Civil conspiracy
- Alcohol consumption
- Dog bites
- Bad check
- Injuries resulting from equine activities
- Childhood sexual abuse
What are the Differences Between Criminal Law and Tort Law in Montana?
Montana’s criminal law guides the prosecution of crimes against society: misdemeanors and felonies. The criminal justice process is directed by Titles 45 and 46 of the Montana Code Annotated and local court rules. Any person (defendant) tried for a criminal offense under these laws faces punishment such as fines, imprisonment, license suspensions/revocations, community service, treatment, and more. Depending on the severity and type of an offense, it may be handled at trial level by the Municipal, City, Justice, or District Courts.
Whereas, Montana’s tort law governs civil remedies for injurious acts. Unlike a criminal act, defendants in tortious claims are not punished for their unlawful actions but are financially liable when responsible for another person’s injury, accident, or loss. Tort claims are heard by the same courts that prosecute crimes.
Apart from the specific laws, the judicial processes for these cases are very different. For instance, while a defendant will be served with legal papers and orders to be made aware of a tort claim, the defendant will most likely be arrested and brought to court for a crime.
In certain situations, a tort claim can be a crime as well, and vice versa. Such cases can be prosecuted under criminal and tort laws. Examples of these cases include wrongful death, assault, and battery.
What is the Purpose of Tort Law in Montana?
The tort law in Montana establishes financial liability for injurious conduct or actions. Because of this law, individuals who have endured damages or losses because of the intentional or unintentional actions of other parties can be financially restored, reimbursed, or compensated for damages or pain and suffering. The law also serves to discourage future occurrences of injurious acts and guard the rights, liabilities, and remedies of parties.
What is a Tort Claim in Montana?
Montana law refers to a tort claim as a legal procedure initiated by an individual to receive compensation for a grievous harm, injury, or wrong. Per 27–1–106, MCA, there are two types of injury for which a tort claim can be filed:
- An injury to a person
- An injury to property. This includes property damage, destruction, possession, and deterioration
How Do You File a Tort Claim in Montana?
Although more than one court can handle a tort claim in Montana, the filing processes in these courts are similar. It is important to note that it is not possible to file a tort claim in the small claims court.
Several factors determine whether a case will be filed in the Limited Jurisdiction or District Courts, including the amount in compensation, venue of the injury, and the defendant. When the compensation demanded is above $12,000, it is often initiated in the District Court, Montana’s court of general jurisdiction. As stated previously, claims against the state must be filed in the District Courts. Proceedings in the District Courts are regulated by the Montana Rules of Civil Procedure, Uniform District Court Rules, and Local District Court Rules. However, an injured party may file a government-related claim with the Risk Management & Tort Defense Division (RMTD) rather than the court.
In the State, a tort claim begins when a wronged person files a complaint with the court, along with other corroborating documents (reports, bills, records, etc.). The civil complaint form will state the injury sustained, relief required, and parties liable. Prospective claimants may find this form on the Civil Forms page. Other necessary forms may be obtained from this page as well.
Per 25–2–122, MCA, a claim must be filed in the county where the defendant resides or where the tort happened. However, this applies only to claims between actual persons. For a corporation, it must be where the tort happened, the corporation’s resident agent can be found, or where the plaintiff lives. For an out-of-state defendant, the claim should be filed where the injury occurred or the plaintiff resides. The statute of limitations for tort actions, except defamation, battery, seduction, or false imprisonment, is within 3 years upon discovery of a cause of action. However, if the claim is for a homicidal wrongful death, this period is 10 years. The statute of limitations for defamation (libel, slander), battery, seduction, or false imprisonment is 2 years.
What Does a Tort Claim Contain in Montana?
In Montana, a tort claim contains the following information:
- Case number
- Filing court and county
- The plaintiff’s name, address, and phone number
- The defendant’s name and address
- A statement of the facts (description of the loss(es))
- The amount in compensation demanded
- The time, date, and place where the cause of action originated
- The date when the claim was filed
- The plaintiff’s signature
- The notary’s signature and residence
What Happens after a Tort Claim is Filed in Montana?
Subsequent to filing a tort claim, a defendant will be informed of the action. The Clerk of Court gives this notice and a Sheriff, process server, or other authorized party performs the service. The issued documents (complaint and summons) will tell the defendant the court of filing, the answer fee, and order the party to answer the complaint. As usual, the defendant has a specified number of days to respond. Cases filed in the Montana District Courts are resolved by settlement or trial. Defendants may opt for settlement to avoid litigation expenses and loss of social standing. These negotiations typically occur before a trial commences. When a settlement cannot be agreed upon, the case will move to discovery (investigation, and then to trial. At the trial hearing, a judge or jury may give the final judgment for the case. Unsatisfied litigants (plaintiff or defendant) may appeal the District Court’s decision to the Montana Supreme Court.
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Tort Claim?
A personal injury lawyer may prove invaluable when requesting total compensation for an injury, especially in the more complicated cases. Although legal representation is not mandatory in tort claims, plaintiffs may hire an attorney to represent them in court, explain/assess their legal rights, provide advice, investigate claims, negotiate settlements, and assist with the general legal process.
How Can I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me?
Licensed personal injury lawyers in Montana can be found through the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) of the Montana State Bar. To obtain a referral from this service, interested parties may call (406) 449–6577. Alternatively, the LRIS website may be searched by practice area, city, or county. Individuals may check if a lawyer is certified to practice law in Montana with the Attorney Name Search.