Idaho Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules

If you've been injured in an accident in Idaho, make sure you understand these rules before you start your personal injury case.

If you live in Idaho, after an injury you may be wondering which state laws might apply if you decide to take legal action. This article looks at some of Idaho's key personal injury laws, which may apply whether you choose to file a claim with an insurance company or seek damages in court.

Deadlines on Idaho Injury Lawsuits

Like all other states, Idaho has deadlines for filing an injury lawsuit in civil court. Idaho law gives you two years to file your lawsuit if you want to hold a person or business legally liable for your injury. Known as the "statute of limitations," this two-year time limit usually starts on the date of the accident (or whatever caused your injury). If you fail to file your case within the two-year deadline, you'll likely lose your right to take the matter to court at all, so it's important to keep this deadline in mind.

Comparative Fault Rules in Idaho

In some cases, you may file an injury claim only to hear the person or company you filed against insist that you were partly (or totally) at fault for the accident. When you're assigned part of the fault by a court that's hearing your case, Idaho's "comparative fault" rule kicks in to reduce or eliminate the damages you're allowed to collect.

Here's an illustration. Suppose that you're driving a few miles per hour above the speed limit when you approach an intersection in Idaho. Your light is green, so you keep going, but as you enter the intersection another driver runs the red light on the cross street and hits your car. When you file a case in court against the other driver, the court decides you were 10 percent at fault for the accident and the other driver was 90 percent at fault.

Under Idaho's comparative fault rule, you'll receive a reduced amount of damages. If your total damages were $10,000 in this example, you may collect up to $9,000. This equals the $10,000 total, minus $1,000 that represents the 10 percent of the fault assigned to you. If your total fault is under 50 percent, you'll be able to collect something, even if it's reduced. But if your fault is 50 percent or higher, the court will not allow you to collect any damages from any other at-fault party.

Idaho courts are required to apply the comparative fault rule whenever the injured person is found to be partly at fault. The rule also comes up in insurance negotiations quite often, so it's wise to be prepared.

Auto Insurance Laws in Idaho

Idaho uses a "fault" or "at-fault" system in car accident cases. If you're injured in a car accident, you have multiple options in Idaho. For instance, you may file a claim with your own insurance company, file a claim directly with another driver's insurance company, or file a lawsuit in court to establish fault. These options give you flexibility when negotiating an insurance settlement.

Owner Liability For Injury by a Dog or Other Animal

There is no specific statute in Idaho governing personal injury liability for dog bites. Owners will be held liable for injuries caused by their dog (or other animal) if the injured party can show that the owner "should have known" the animal was dangerous. This is known as the "one bite" rule.

Damage Caps in Idaho Injury Cases

Some states use damage caps in personal injury cases to limit the amount of compensation an injured person may collect in certain instances. One common limit on damages is a cap on "non-economic" damages, or damages for pain and suffering.

Idaho is among the states that have enacted caps on non-economic damages. Idaho caps non-economic damages in injury cases at $250,000. It's important to note that this cap does not apply to economic damages, like medical bills and lost wages.

More on Idaho Injury Law

Check out Idaho's state laws (Title 6 on personal injury cases and Title 49 on motor vehicle laws) for more state-specific details on injury cases.

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