Comparative Responsibility, Idaho’s 50/50 Rule and Protecting Yourself

If the insurance adjuster for your injury claim mentions “comparative responsibility” or a “percentage of fault” to you its time to watch out.  He is trying to take money out of your pocket.

Idaho has a law on the books that the insurance company  is trying to use against you. .  The idea behind this type of “comparative responsibility” law is that in some situations the overall responsibility for an injury should be shared among more than one person.   For example, assume “Bob” runs a stop sign in front of an oncoming car, resulting in a collision that injured that other car’s driver, Nancy.   If Nancy was speeding, even though she had the right of way,  some people might consider her also responsible for the collision.   Thus, a jury might say that Bob was 90% at fault and Nancy was 10% at fault.  In that situation, under Idaho’s law, Nancy could only recover 90% of her medical bills and other damages.

It is important to recognize, however, that a jury and ONLY a jury can make a binding determination on the percentage of comparative fault.   Thus when the insurance adjuster starts talking about your percentage of fault he is far from the last word.  And, of course, his goal is to assert your comparative responsibility is large thereby reducing the amount the insurance company will pay.

Idaho’s comparative responsibility statute is particularly bad because it includes  the “50/50” rule.  If the injured person is found by a jury to be  50% or more responsible for causing the injury,  they are barred from any recovery whatsoever.  So if a jury found the Nancy 50% at fault and Bob equally at fault it does not matter how badly injured the Nancy is.  She would have a right to receive $0 in damages for medical bills and other things even though Bob was half responsible for the injuries.  This means Nancy incurs 100% of the cost while Bob (and his insurance company), who was equally responsible, incurs none of the costs.

Because this “apportionment of fault” is a way to keep money in the insurance companies pocket, we see them raise it as an issue even in cases where it is highly unlikely a jury would find injured person  had any responsibility.  If you start hearing this kind of talk from an insurance adjuster, you need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you as soon as possible.

We are happy to help people all over Southern Idaho.


Leave a Reply