Who Is Liable for Injuries and Fatalities in Montana Dust Storms?

On July 15, 2022, around 4:30PM a dust storm limited visibility in Montana. Tragically, there was a terrible pileup accident in I-90 west of Hardin.

The Associated Press is reporting that several people were injured and that 6 people died, including 2 children.

We are deeply saddened to hear about this devastating crash.

Who is responsible for collisions, injuries and deaths?

All drivers have a responsibility to drive at a safe speed on the highway. Failure to do so is usually considered negligence. Drivers must slow down below the posted speed limit, especially when there is fog, ice, snow, wind, dust or anything else which may limit visibility or a vehicle’s ability to safely slow down and not hit the vehicle in front of them.

The Montana Driver Manual clearly states that if drivers can’t see where they’re going, they should “pull off the road in a safe place and wait until the weather clears”.

Drivers are almost always considered negligent and liable for accidents and injuries caused by their vehicle, especially when there’s inclement weather, storms or other weather events.

While we’re not certain what occurred on July 16th, it’s very likely that a vehicle or tractor trailer crashed into the rear of another vehicle, then additional vehicles which were traveling far too fast for the current conditions also slammed into the vehicles ahead of them.

A Note on Insurance.

Most tractor trailer drivers know of the dangers on I90. For example, driving I90 in the winter requires drivers in the mountains to maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front of them.

Getting compensation for injuries from truck accidents can be difficult. Often, there are multiple parties involved. There could be insurance by the employer, on the trucker itself and then on the truck, too.

When there are multiple vehicles involved, insurers are likely to blame other drivers.

Many insurers are likely to blame the weather in a crash like this.

Wrongful Death.

A type of claim loved ones who lost a relative should be aware of is a “wrongful death” claim. It is not likely an insurer is going to bring this up because these claims can cost them a significant amount of money – sometimes millions of dollars.

These claims can be brought on behalf of the loved one who was lost in a crash and sometimes provide some sort of closure.

Montana defines wrongful death as the death of someone “…caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” (Montana Code § 27-1-513). Basically, if someone is killed by someone’s negligence, you can likely file a wrongful death claim.

Contact a Montana Personal Injury Lawyer.

After any crash resulting in a serious injury or a fatality, contact a personal injury lawyer.

If you contact Quirk Accident & Injury Attorneys, APC after a crash similar to this one, we will offer you a free consultation and let you know what your legal options are.

Armed with legal knowledge, you can then choose on how to proceed with your claim. Some claims can be handled yourself, and in other cases the outcome will be better with an attorney by your side.