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Billings Personal Injury Law Blog

What are Montana's bicycle laws?

If you ride a bicycle in Montana, it is essential that you understand the laws regarding the use of bicycles on public roadways. Obeying the laws will not only keep you safe but also prevent you from being ticketed by law enforcement.

Bike Walk Montana notes that all motor vehicle road laws all apply to bicyclists. This is an important point to keep in mind because it means you must go with the flow of traffic and obey all road signals. This includes using hand signals when turning and stopping. If you fail to do so, you could be liable for any accidents you cause. 

The holiday season means more trucks on the road

The onset of the holiday season means more commercial vehicles are taking to roadways across Montana and the nation to transport goods and deliver packages, but the influx of trucks can also mean enhanced danger for motorists. This time of year, truckers are more likely to face tight schedules and experience fatigue, and when these factors combine with the inclement weather that is common during winter, the results can prove deadly. At the Law Firm of Edmiston & Colton, we understand the unique dangers involved with sharing the road with trucks around the holidays, and we have helped many clients who suffered injury because of another’s negligence.

While you cannot prevent all truck accidents if others choose to drive negligently or not follow the rules of the road and their profession, there are some steps you can take to lower your chances of becoming a statistic. The U.S. Department of Transportation notes that staying out of a commercial truck’s “no zones,” which are the blind spots directly in front, behind and on either side of the truck, is among the most important. As a general rule, look for a truck driver’s eyes when maneuvering around trucks, and if you cannot see them, assume the driver cannot see you, either.

Can my vehicle’s headlights be tinted?

You may wonder if your vehicle's headlights shine too brightly on Montana's roads, perhaps necessitating some tinting to dim the impact of your lights. At the same time, many Montana motorists understand automobile standards are carefully regulated by law, including headlight performance. As it turns out, Montana law does address the question of vehicle tinting, as well as provide guidance on the question of how bright your headlights should be.

According to the Montana Driver Manual issued by the Montana Department of Justice Motor Vehicle Division, vehicle headlights are prohibited from certain forms of tinting. Unless the tinting on the headlights complies with federal regulations that govern automobile manufacturing, vehicle headlights and tail lights cannot be tinted. Additionally, headlights and tail lights cannot be treated with any component, system, material or substance that colors the surface, unless it complies with manufacturing regulations.

How serious are penalties for texting while driving?

Setting aside any potential risks to your well-being that may exist, the consequences of texting and driving in Montana depend largely on the context of the event: specifically, the location. The jurisdiction in which you are alleged to be texting and driving must have a law in place prohibiting such action, and the penalties associated with violations depend on the relevant municipal code. You are unlikely to receive a ticket for texting while driving on state highways due to the fact that, at the time of writing, there is no statewide law against operating vehicles while using communications devices.

The lack of continuity between various municipal distracted driving laws further serves to complicate the matter of determining the severity of your offense. However, the penalties for each jurisdiction are usually straightforward. For example, the Billings Code of Ordinances outlines the following penalties for driving while using communications technology:

  • Court costs if an unfavorable judgment is entered against you
  • A fine of up to $300 for your first offense
  • Fines of up to $500 for your subsequent violations

Why might injuries not be noticed right after a car accident?

Being involved in a car accident in Montana can be a very scary experience. Your body reacts to an accident situation in a unique way that is very primitive. In the past, when our ancestors faced high stress situations, it often meant their lives were in danger. They needed to flee the situation. To do this, they needed extra energy, so the body developed to produce chemicals, such as adrenaline, that boost your energy in times of stress.

According to Arrowhead Clinic, it is these chemicals that block your ability to feel pain right after a car accident. They help you cope after the accident, allowing you to focus on getting out of a damaged vehicle or to get others out. Once the danger is over, the body stops producing the chemicals, but it takes time for them to work out of your system. In the meantime, you may feel pretty good.

How common is medical misdiagnosis?

When you visit your Montana doctor, you probably have faith that he or she will be able to assess your condition accurately, and then recommend an appropriate course of treatment. Given just how many conditions and diseases exist in comparison to how many different symptoms patients experience, however, nailing down an exact diagnosis is not something all doctors can do all the time.

In fact, medical misdiagnosis is alarmingly common in the United States, per The Washington Post, which reports that more than 20 percent of all patients who receive serious medical diagnoses are victims of misdiagnosis. Furthermore, many believe that incidents of misdiagnosis are under-reported, with the National Academy of Medicine reporting that most patients will receive the wrong diagnosis, or the correct diagnosis, but late, at some point during their lifetime.

What can you do to stay safe on a bicycle?

If you are one of the many Montana residents who enjoys pedaling your bicycle around to get to and from places, you may be well aware that this form of transportation has its risks. However, there are certainly precautions you can take to stay safe on your bike and prevent accidents from occurring. Your attention to safety can also reduce the chance you receive a serious injury if you are involved in an accident.

The Huffington Post shared some suggestions for motorcyclists to help them stay safer on the road. However, these tips are just as valuable to you when you are riding your bike. They include the following:

  • Wear proper clothing: Whenever you are planning to ride your bike, you should wear clothing that will provide a measure of protection if you hit the road. A helmet is critical to your safety and should be worn at all times. Additionally, your clothing should be reflective and bright to increase your visibility to other drivers on the road. 
  • Stay focused and responsible: While you may be encouraged to act cool, ride carelessly or get distracted by music or electronics, these kinds of behaviors can instantly mean disaster if you lose focus on the road. 
  • Be visible: Always take extra precautions to be as visible as possible to drivers. For example, wear brightly colored clothing, have reflectors on your bike and follow all traffic laws. Additionally, always utilize crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes wherever possible.

What types of compensation can you seek after car accidents?

If you find yourself involved in a Montana car crash, you may be wondering what type of damages you can pursue to help you pay for medical care, property damage and so on. Ultimately, the types of damages you can try and claim will vary based on the specifics of your accident and who or what was at fault for it, but many who suffer personal injury after accident involvement pursue the same basic types of damages.

Per Findlaw, damages to cover medical expenditures are common after injury car accidents. Because some injuries and medical hardships are not apparent immediately following a crash, it is wise for you, as a victim, to seek prompt medical attention, even if you believe your injuries are only minor in nature. Furthermore, you may be able to seek damages not only for doctor and hospital fees, but also for in-home care, disfigurement and any accessories you may need as you recover, such as crutches.

Types of distracted driving

While most drivers in Montana realize that many car accidents are caused by distracted driving, you may not be aware that there are multiple types of this offense that can be committed. Cell phones receive the most attention because they qualify in all three categories of distraction, but there are several other actions that can lead to an accident. We at the Law Firm of Edmiston and Colton can ensure you get the compensation you deserve if you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver.

According to Esurance, manual distractions involve any action that removes one or both hands from the steering wheel. While using a phone is the classic example, this type can also include adjusting the radio, grabbing something from off the ground, handing something to someone in the back seat or eating. Many parents are guilty of this type of distracted driving since they are frequently grabbing things for children or handing them into the back.

Medical mistakes can cause lifelong disability for your child

Labor and delivery are physically and emotionally stressful for most women. They rely on the doctors and nurses present during the process to protect them and guide them through a safe birth. Generally, doctors and nurses are attentive, compassionate and well-informed about what to do during birth. Sometimes, however, a mistake or oversight can end up having profound and lasting consequences for the patient.

Medical mistakes during birth can leave a mother injured or an infant with a serious birth injury, like cerebral palsy. The family shouldn't have to spend years paying for the mistakes made by others. When medical professionals make a mistake during birth that results in serious injuries, they should be held accountable.

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