From Lewiston to Selway, Idaho has thousand of miles of scenic highways. The roads of this beautiful state are used each year by more than one million licensed drivers, who drive 10,000 miles per year on average. On their daily journeys, people in Idaho are involved in thousands of car accidents daily. If you are living in or visiting the Gem State, you should be familiar with the laws and resources related to driving in Idaho.
Statistics and Notable Settlements
The Idaho state government reports the following accident and related statistics for 2015:
- The number of car accidents in the state increased by 8.5% from 22,134 to 24,018 in 2015. The number of deaths that occurred in car accidents increased from 186 in 2014 to 216 in 2015. This is a 16% increase. The number of serious injuries also increased from 1273 in 2014 to 1351 in 2015. This is a 6% percent increase. However, the number of fatal accidents was approximately the same as 2013.
- The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.3 for 2015, which was an increase from 1.15 in 2014.
- Approximately 65% of car accidents happened on city roads, and 78% of fatal car accidents in the state happened in rural areas in 2015.
- Idaho fatalities from drinking and driving increased in 2015 by nearly 21%. Forty percent of all crashes in the state where due to drinking and driving. Of the 87 who died in impaired crashes, 77 of them were either the driver, the person in the vehicle with the driver, or a pedestrian.
- Observed seatbelt use in the state increased to 81% in 2015. However, only 38% of people who died in car accidents were wearing seatbelts. It is estimated by the state if everyone in the accidents had worn seatbelts, 47 of the 93 who were not wearing seatbelts could have been spared.
- Aggressive driving was determined to be a major factor in 52% of the car accidents in Idaho in 2015. Fifty-one people died in distracted driving accidents that year.
- Drivers from 15 to 19 are involved in a high number of auto crashes in the state. In 2015, drivers in this age range were 2.6 times more likely as other drivers to get in a fatal crash or a crash resulting in injury. There were 34 people killed in car accidents involving young drivers in 2015.
- The number of motorcyclists who died in car accidents rose to 28 in 2015. Approximately 65% of these involved only the motorcyclists, and 54% involved a driver who was impaired.
The state government also noted in 2015:
- A traffic crash happened every 22 minutes
- A person died in a traffic accident every 40 hours
- A person was injured in a traffic accident every 40 minutes
- A person was killed by a drunk or impaired driver every four days
There are many examples of car accident settlements in Idaho where having a personal injury attorney was extremely beneficial. A recent lawsuit in Idaho involved a client who was T-boned by an Allstate client who ran a red light. The client had a serious shoulder injury. Allstate’s offer was a tiny $5200. The client did not have auto insurance and had no underinsured motorist coverage. Allstate refused to consider more than $8000 in medical bills paid by Medicaid, so the attorney opted to go to arbitration. The result was a $51,000 award.
Idaho Negligence Laws
Idaho is one of the states that has an at-fault rule for auto accident claims. Drivers who are in car accidents must prove that the other party was at fault to obtain compensation in a claim or lawsuit.
Idaho also is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that to recover damages for your injuries or property damage, the plaintiff cannot be more at fault than the other driver. Fault is measured as a percentage calculated by either the judge or jury. Fault of 50% or higher will prevent the plaintiff from recovering anything.
Reporting a Car Accident in Idaho
If you are seriously injured or someone is killed in a car accident, you might not be thinking about the legal reporting requirements for the state. But in Idaho, you are required to report a car accident where there is injury or death, or property damage of $1500 or more. You should report such accidents immediately by calling 911, the local police department or the Idaho State Police.
Idaho Caps On Damages
There is no cap on economic damages for car accident victims, such as medical costs and lost wages. However, the cap on non-economic damages is approximately $250,000 and is adjusted every year according to inflation. This means that you can only win damages for pain and suffering up to $250,000. If you are awarded more than that by a jury, the judge by law must reduce it to $250,000.
Idaho Statute of Limitations
If you are injured by a driver in Idaho, you only have a certain period to file a personal injury lawsuit. The statute of limitations for all personal injury lawsuits in this state is two years from the date of injury. You also have three years after the car accident to file a claim for property damage.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Idaho
State law requires you to carry a certain level of auto insurance. If you do not do so, you can be fined or even go to jail. According to state law, you are required to have the following coverages:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person for each accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury for all persons in each accident
- $15,000 for property damage
- $25,000/$50,000 for uninsured and underinsured motorists
You can waive the underinsured and uninsured coverage if you desire, but this is not recommended. If you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you could find yourself unable to pay for your property damage and injuries.
Other Idaho Laws
There are other laws in effect you should be aware of if driving in Idaho:
- Texting while driving is banned for all drivers regardless of age.
- You can technically talk on a cell phone while driving, but note the state now has a ‘distraction in or on vehicle list’ that will note if your cell phone played a role in an accident. You can be cited for chatting or texting on a phone at the time of an accident. This could be used against you if a personal injury lawsuit is filed against you for causing injuries to another person.
- State law prohibits drivers from leaving their vehicle unattended while it is running. Drivers must shut off the engine and remove the keys from a vehicle that is not attended.
- Idaho has a Good Samaritan law that protects you from civil claims that can arise due helping people at the scene of an accident.
Idaho Car Accident Resources
If you have been in a car accident in Idaho, there will be many things going through your mind. Here are some resources and tips you can rely on if you are in this unfortunate situation in Idaho:
- If you are in an accident with serious injury or death or damages over $1500, you must file a police report, or a report with the Idaho State Police. You can look up a crash report at the state police website.
- If you are unsure what your case is worth, you can get a complimentary case evaluation today with Lawsuit Info Center.