How Does Idaho’s Comparative Negligence Statute Impact Recovery in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Each state has laws that govern how negligence and fault are determined in a car accident claim. Most states, including Idaho, have adopted what is known as a modified comparative negligence or comparative fault. Under Idaho Code Ann. §6-801, a victim is not barred from receiving compensation for injuries from another party, provided the victim’s negligence is not as great as the other party’s negligence. In other words, you can be partially at fault for a car accident and still recover compensation from the other driver.
Idaho’s version is referred to as “modified” because Idaho has chosen to prohibit victims from recovering any compensation if they are more than half at fault for the traffic accident. In other words, if you are 51 percent negligent in causing the collision, you will not receive compensation for your damages. Provided you are not as negligent as another party, you can recover damages, but your percentage of fault reduces your compensation.
Fighting for the Maximum Amount of Compensation
Because comparative negligence laws can substantially reduce the amount of money you receive for your injury claim, it is important to build a compelling case arguing that the other driver is 100 percent at fault. Our Idaho accident attorneys investigate the collision to identify and gather evidence that proves you were not at fault. If you do share in the fault, we work diligently to get the percentage assigned to you as low as possible to maximize the amount you receive for your claim.
Let’s Look at Some Numbers
Let’s assume that another driver turned left in front of you, but you were speeding at the time of the collision. You file a lawsuit, and the case goes to trial. After the trial, the jury determines that the other driver was 90 percent at fault for the collision and your fault is 10 percent.
Because you are less than one-half at fault, you are entitled to recover compensation the other driver. Assuming your damages total $100,000, the most you can receive for your claim is $90,000 — the total damages ($100,000) less your percentage of fault (10 percent).
Obviously, you want another party to be 100 percent negligent for the crash because you do not want to lose any money. However, if you are going to be assigned a percentage of fault, you want the percentage assigned to you to be as low as possible.
Will an Insurance Company Try to Lower My Claim Amount?
Most claims are settled without filing a lawsuit, and many lawsuits are settled before a trial. However, this does not stop the insurance company from using comparative fault to try to lower the amount of your claim. Victims without attorneys may believe they have no choice but to accept what the insurance adjuster is telling them and settle for the lower amount.
This is not true. You have the legal right to challenge what the insurance company tells you regarding your fault. The insurance company does NOT have the final say on the matter. If you have questions or you feel the insurance adjuster is not treating you fairly, you need to discuss your case with an Idaho car accident attorney immediately.