If you are injured at a business in Missoula, Montana, you may wonder if the business can simply dismiss your claim and deny any responsibility for your damages. The answer depends on the circumstances of your injury and the legal duty of care that the business owes to you as a visitor.
Montana premises liability law deals with the legal obligations of a property owner or occupier for ensuring that its premises are reasonably safe for visitors and guests. Most premises liability claims in Montana involve slip-and-fall accidents, but they can also include other types of injuries caused by defective or dangerous conditions on the property, such as inadequate security, dog bites, falling objects, toxic substances, etc.
Duty of care
The duty of care that a property owner or occupier owes to a visitor varies depending on the status of the visitor. In Montana, there are three categories of visitors: invitees (highest duty of care), licensees and trespassers (lowest duty of care).
If you are injured at a business, you are likely an invitee who is entitled to expect that the business will maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition. However, this does not mean that the business is automatically liable. You still have to prove that the business knew or should have known of a dangerous condition on its property. You must also show that the business failed to repair it or warn you of it, and that the dangerous condition caused your injury. Finally, you must show that you suffered damages as a result.
Additionally, you have to consider Montana’s law of comparative fault. This law states that if you are partially responsible for your own injury, your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were injured by slipping on a wet floor at a grocery store, but you were also texting on your phone and not paying attention to where you were going, the jury may find that you were 25% at fault for your injury. In that case, your damages will be reduced by 25%. If you are more than 50% at fault for your injury, you cannot recover anything from the business.
Therefore, if you are injured at a business in Missoula, you should not assume that the business can just waive you away and avoid liability. You may have a valid premises liability claim, depending on the facts of your case and your degree of fault. However, you should also be aware that premises liability cases can be complex and challenging to prove, and you may face resistance from the business and its insurance company.