Idaho Personal Injury Law Basics
An introduction to the basic laws of injury cases in Idaho.
Personal injury law involves civil claims for damages in which a person is injured through the negligence, recklessness or other misconduct of a person, company or property owner. Claims like these relate to personal physical injuries as a general rule, but there are a few that deal with emotional distress. Our system has developed injury law to hold people personally responsible for their actions when they engage in negligence or misconduct.
The various states have different laws each state creates its own law through its courts and legislature.
Injury claims arise in many types of cases Idaho car accidents, trucking collisions, slip and falls and many other types of settings.
The First Issue is "Fault" or Personal Responsibility
An Idaho claimant is required to prove negligence of another person in most injury case. The term Negligence or negligent means “the failure to use reasonable care.” There are basically four things you must prove to the court or a jury:
- A responsible party owed you a duty (i.e. to stop at the red light)
- That party failed to uphold or breached the duty (i.e. ran the red light)
- The failure caused your injuries (i.e. hit you); and
- You suffered damages from the injuries (i.e. medical expenses, pain etc.).
Idaho is a state that follows the doctrine of comparative fault. Under our law if the decision is you are 50% or more at fault, you cannot receive compensation. If you are 49% or less responsible, the negligent person has to pay the percentage of damages equal to their share of responsibility. A jury is ultimately the decision maker about whether there is negligence or comparative negligence. (For more information, see our article on comparative and contributory negligence.)
Multiple Parties or Defendants
In some cases, there can be more than one responsible defendant who was negligent. If a truck driver has a collision, the driver and the trucking company may each have some responsibility or fault. Idaho requires all responsible parties who might be at fault to have the responsibility apportioned among them, so each pays only damages consistent with their share of fault.
Learn more about Negligence in Personal Injury Law.
Time Limits (Statute of Limitations) for Filing Your Lawsuit
Idaho has a two year statute of limitations applicable to injury claims. However, there are special rules applied if an injury was caused by a government actor. The statute starts to run when the injured person has suffered “some damage” --not from the date you discover an injury. The statute of limitations can cause problems and prevent you from recovering even when you should.
Compensation Offered By The Law
Essentially you have a right to recover damage payments (compensation) for:
- Medical expenses (past and future) arising due to the injuries
- Lost wages, including future wages
- Property damage including loss of use and diminution of value
- Any disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- Other costs resulting from your injuries
Non-economic damages are those like the pain and suffering component or emotional distress that cannot be converted to an economic loss. In Idaho these damages are limited unless the actions at issue were reckless or willful. If not the damages are capped at $250,000 with an adjustment for each year.
Punitive damages are a category of damages that exist to punish a wrongdoer-not merely to compensate the injured person for their loss. In Idaho, are limited to three times the compensatory damages or $250,000. Such damages are only available for extreme deviations from reasonable standards of care.
To learn more about damages and the value of your personal injury case, see our section on How Much is Your Injury Claim Worth?