Medical Malpractice Law in Montana

Medical malpractice law in Montana is currently in a state of flux, especially in regard to contributory or comparative negligence and joint and several liability.

Statutes of Limitations in Montana

Medical malpractice actions alleging personal injury or wrongful death have to be brought within three years from the date of injury or discovery. Action cannot be brought under any circumstances more than five years from the date of the injurious event.

Montana State Malpractice Laws at a Glance:

Montana State Tort Law
Statute of Limitations Three years from date of original injury or discovery but not longer than five years from act.
Damage Award Limits $250,000 limit to noneconomic damages. Punitive damages decided by court.
Joint Defendant Liability Proportionate liability for defendants, exception made when a defendant is found to be over 50% liable.
Expert Witness No stipulations for witnesses
Attorney Fees No limits on attorneys fees

Contributory or Comparative Negligence in Montana

Montana law has not quite stabilized yet as the legislature have passed alternative versions of statutes on comparative negligence, joint and several liability and other aspects for causes of action that arise on or after April 18, 1997.

Montana has adopted the doctrine of modified comparative negligence, under which a claimant's action is barred if his negligence exceeds the combined negligence of all defendants and otherwise it will be reduced d in proportion to the claimant's own negligence.

Montana Law and Joint and Several Liability

In Montana, a party 50 percent or less liable is severally liable only. Otherwise, the tortfeasor is jointly and severally liable with all other tortfeasors. If for any reason a contribution of one party cannot be obtained, other parties must contribute a proportionate share of their unpaid share. Montana is a state that does afford joint tortfeasors a right of contribution in medical malpractice actions.

Vicarious Liability in Montana

An ostensible agency is legally created when the principal causes a third person to believe another to be his agent. Montana courts have recognized that this doctrine imposes liability on hospitals for the negligence of its independently- contracted physicians.

Montana Requires Expert Testimony

Expert testimony is necessary in Montana to establish a cause of action for medical malpractice.

Damage Caps in Montana

Montana imposes a limit of $250,000 on the non-economic damages a claimant can recover in actions initiated after October 1, 1995.

No State Immunity for Montana

Montana waived its immunity and that of all of its political subdivisions. The state's liability is limited to $750,000 per claim and $1,500,000 per occurrence.

Arbitration and Montana Law

The Montana Medical Legal Panel must review any medical malpractice actions that are not subject to a valid arbitration agreement before any complaint can be filed in the state's district court. The panel decides whether there is substantial enough evidence that the acts occurred and were malpractice, and that the claimant was injured by the acts. Their decision is neither binding nor admissible in court.

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