Idaho personal injury law involves civil claims for money damages (as opposed to criminal claims). The claims arise when a person is injured through the negligence, recklessness or intentional misconduct of another person, a company, or property owner. Idaho personal injury claims and lawsuits usually relate to physical injuries. Although there are some claims brought solely for emotional injuries, these are difficult. Fundamentally, Idaho personal injury law is about personal responsibility. It exists to make sure people who cause injury are held accountable for their negligence or intentional misconduct. While there are similarities, Idaho law is different from the law of other states. Each state creates its own law through its courts and legislature.
Fault or Responsibility In Idaho Personal Injury Law
First, in Idaho, you generally must prove “negligence” of the other person in a personal injury cases. Negligence is “the failure to use reasonable care.” To prove negligence you must prove to the court or a jury:
- The responsible party owed you a duty (i.e. to stop at the stop sign)
- They failed to uphold or breached the duty (i.e. ran the stop sign)
- That failure caused your injuries (i.e. hit you in the intersection); and
- You suffered damages from the injuries (i.e. medical expenses, pain etc.).
If a person’s acts were worse than merely negligent the damage awards can be increased. For example, if the actions were “reckless” the compensatory damage award can be higher. If they were “an extreme deviation” from reasonable behavior, punishment damages might be added. These Idaho personal injury law concepts related to worse behavior are discussed below.
Second, Idaho personal injury law follows the doctrine of comparative negligence or comparative fault. Under Idaho law, comparative fault requires an evaluation of the actions of all people who may have been legally responsible for an injury. This often includes the injured person. If in that evaluation the injured person is determined to be 50% or more at fault, no compensation is available. If the injured person is 49% or less responsible, the person who caused the injuries can be held responsible for the percentage of damages equal to their percentage of fault. Whether there is negligence or comparative negligence will ultimately be decided by a jury because it is a question of fact.
Multiple Parties or Defendants
Third, in many cases there may be more than one responsible party that caused an injury. For example, if a commercial truck driver has a trucking accident, both the driver and the trucking company may be found at fault. The trucker might be an independent contractor who drove carelessly. At the same time the company might have loaded the trailer inappropriately causing it to be hard to manage. It is possible they might share the blame for your injuries. Idaho law requires the jury to apportion the fault of all responsible parties to an injury. The idea is that each one pays damages caused equal to their portion of fault only.
Time Limit for Filing An Idaho Personal Injury Lawsuit
Fourth, there is a basic two year statute of limitations that applies to Idaho personal injury claims. The statute starts to run when the injured person has suffered “some damage.” It is not from the date the person discovers the injury. In addition, there are special rules shortening time that apply if the injury was caused by the government. Consequently, a statute of limitations can cause problems and prevent you from recovering even when you should.
Compensation Available Under Idaho Personal Injury Law
Fifth, there are two main areas of compensation available that your are able to recover. These are for your economic losses and your non-economic losses. Under Idaho law you have a right to recover compensation for:
- Economic Losses
- 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
- Non-Economic Losses
- Any disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- Other costs resulting from your injuries
The non-economic losses like the pain and suffering component or emotional distress are those that cannot be converted to a specific dollar amount by a formula. In Idaho these damages are limited unless the actions at issue were reckless or willful. If not the damages were capped at $250,000 in 2004 with an upward adjustment for each year. These caps are counterproductive and bad for ordinary people.
Non-Compensatory Damage Awards
Sixth, punitive damages are a special type of damage award designed to punish the wrongdoer. Thus, these are not about compensating an injured person for their loss. In Idaho, punitive damage awards are limited to three times the compensatory damages or $250,000. And are only available for “extreme deviations” from reasonable standards of care. It takes more than mere recklessness or negligence for a punitive damages to be part of your case.
Hepworth Holzer LLP is Your Best Choice For An Idaho Personal Injury Law Claim
If you believe you have an Idaho personal injury law claim, you should contact us immediately.
No matter where you are we can help you understand your claim. We represent people for injury claims throughout Idaho not just in Ada and Canyon Counties or Boise and Nampa. We have clients from Rexberg and Rigby to Marsing and Melba, and even Sandpoint and Wallace.