Comparative Responsibility - Idaho Insurance Law
Idaho, like every other state, has both common law and statutory law that can impact the claims you have, how long you have to pursue the claim and the extent of damages that you can recover. We have two laws that help people with smaller claims (under $25,000) pursue their claim and, in appropriate circumstances force the insurance company to pay the attorney fees you incur in pursuing your case. Idaho Code section 12-120(4) and Idaho's landmark Small Lawsuit Resolution Act both are designed to encourage resolution of less serious cases and allow ordinary Idahoans to get the advice and assistance of an attorney.
Idaho operates under a system of law called comparative responsibility. This means that often a jury is asked to decide if more than one person is at fault for an injury.
And, if they decide that more than one person is at fault the jury has to divide up, or apportion, the responsibility among everyone whom they determine is at fault. Thus, where 100% of the fault has to be divided up, the jury might find a driver running a stop sign 80% at fault but the landowner who did not trim the trees completely 20% at fault.
The important thing to remember is that the ONLY people who can make a binding decision on the division of fault is a jury.
This is important because the insurance adjusters often tell people that they have been found 50% at fault by the insurance company. This matters because if a JURY finds an injured person 50% at fault under Idaho law an injured person cannot recover any portion of their damages no matter how badly hurt they might be.
When an insurance adjuster tells you that they have determined fault, it is only their determination not, as they'd have you believe, the actual, appropriate amount of your fault. Don't be fooled.
Idaho also has laws that limit the amount of damages that are recoverable unless, in some cases not only is there carelessness but also a finding of recklessness.
The details of all these quirks, and many more, in Idaho law are important to understand to fairly evaluate your case.