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Personal responsibility is the cornerstone of injury law. And injury law is one of the important parts of the civil justice system.   At times conversations with clients expose a misunderstanding of this important role of injury law in Idaho.  And sometimes this misunderstanding is even more pronounced when discussing the law with state legislators who are not trained in law.

The Role Of Injury Law In Society

There are three basic roles that injury law plays in society:

  • Apportionment of Responsibility Among Wrongdoers
  • Provision of Fair and Just Compensation for Losses to Persons Injured Through Fault of Another;and
  • Encouragement of Safety and Responsible Risk Management.

Scholars of law teach that the very essence of “tort” law is making sure that those that cause a problem are held personally responsible for the injuries they impose.  It is the most direct form of accountability to those one has wronged that our legal system provides.

Tort law especially exemplifies the lodestar of personal responsibility.
The concepts of proximate cause, comparative negligence, contributory
negligence, and assumption of risk all were created and became the law to
assess responsibility; that is, to apportion fault.

The civil law of the French, more clearly than the classic traditions of the common law, stated this philosophy of a personal responsibility perspective for the body of injury law.  For example, the French civil code expressly states “every act whatever … which causes damage to another obliges him by who’s fault the damaged occurred to repair it.”  It is this idea that drives the rules underlying Idaho injury law.

Injury Law’s Role In Society Leads To Its Rules

These ideas of personal responsibility, compensation and safety are the ideas that have led to the creation of many of the specifics in injury law.  This is the basic social role of personal injury law — to make sure that people are held personally responsible for theirmisconduct.  That is that they are accountable for their actions.  We have discussed many of those specifics in our post on the basics of Idaho injury law.   And, we have discussed the specific things tor which a wrongdoer can be be held financially responsible in an earlier post.

The basic basis for imposing responsibility in injury law is the concept of negligence.   There are four basic things that must exist for the personal responsibility arising in negligence to be imposed on a person who injures another.

  • First, the person causing an injury must owe the injured person a duty of care
  • Second, There must be a breach of that duty
  • Third the breach must actually cause the injury
  • Fourth, there must be actual damage suffered as a result of that breach

A person does not have to intend an injury to be held accountable for their actions under a negligence theory.  Though an intentionally caused injury is another basis for imposing personal responsibility under injury law.

Personal Responsibility Under The Civil Justice System is Guaranteed by Our Constitutions

This system works because the Seventh Amendment to the US Constitution and Idaho’s Constitution protect your right to a jury trial.  And this is important when it is unclear who is the person responsible for causing an injury.

This system comes under attack from people who do not like being held accountable for their actions. You can read about that at the Tort Deform blog.  One of the things that so-called tort reformers lose sight of is the overall role of tort law in making a safer society.  People get coffee-makers that don’t burn houses down, table saw safety shields, children’s pajama that don’t cause horrific injuries in a fire, seat belts that save people instead of injure them. The list is nigh on endless.

Call us to discuss the personal responsibility of a person who caused an injury to you, we help people all over Idaho.