Comparative Negligence in Idaho

Idaho follows a 50% comparative negligence law, meaning you can only recover damages if you are at less fault than the other driver.
Written by Shannon Fitzgerald
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
has a 50% comparative negligence law, meaning that if you are involved in an accident and found at least as much at fault as the other driver, you cannot recover any damages. 
In the aftermath of an accident, one of the trickiest factors is determining which party is most responsible. Depending on the state, your percentage of blame—or negligence—will decide whether you can recover damages—or accident costs—and how much you’ll be able to recover if you can. 
This is why it’s important to get to know the negligence laws in the state that you’re driving in should an accident occur. Here
breaks down everything you’ll need to know about the comparative negligence law in Idaho.
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What is comparative negligence? 

As a tort law, comparative negligence pertains to harm incurred from a civil wrong. It is used to distribute recovery of damages to the parties involved in proportion to their percentage of fault.
For example, if you are found to be 25% at fault for a
car accident in Idaho
, you may be responsible for paying 25% of the damages. The other driver, in this case, would need to cover 75% of the damages.   
Comparative negligence is used both in personal injury lawsuits and in third-party insurance claims. In lawsuits, a judge or jury determines who’s at fault. In insurance claims, the insurance company determines what percentage of damages they will pay. 

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence 

There are three different types of comparative negligence policies in practice throughout the country—each state varies in which policy they have adopted. They are as follows:  
  • Pure comparative negligence: the injured party is entitled to collect damages according to their percentage of fault unless they are found to be 100% responsible. 
  • Partial or modified comparative negligence: the injured party is entitled to collect damages according to their percentage of fault unless they are 50% or 51% or higher at fault (depending on the state).
  • Contributory negligence: the injured party is only entitled to collect damages if they share none of the fault in the accident. 
Most states use partial or modified comparative negligence law. In fact, only 12 states practice pure comparative negligence, and only 5 states practice contributory negligence. 
Key Takeaway Each state will practice either pure comparative negligence law, partial or modified comparative negligence law, or contributory negligence law. 

What is Idaho’s comparative negligence law? 

Like most states, Idaho has adopted a partial comparative negligence doctrine. This means that you are entitled to collect damages based on your percentage of fault unless you are found to be at least as much at fault as the other driver
Therefore, if you are found to be 50% at fault for the accident, neither you nor the other driver is entitled to recover damages. However, if you are found to be 20% at fault, you will not need to cover the other driver’s damages—at 80% fault, they will need to cover 80% of yours. 

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties? 

When an accident involves multiple parties, the percentage of fault is split among all of the drivers. In this case, you can file a claim with one, both, or all of the other drivers’ insurance providers—you will recover damages according to the percentage of fault each party is assigned. 

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case? 

Both the insurance companies and the court will review evidence from the accident along with police reports to assign the percentage of fault to each driver. 
If you are ever involved in an accident, you will want to document the following: 
  • Makes and models of the cars involved 
  • Weather conditions when the accident occurred 
  • Time that the accident occurred 
  • Photos of the damage each vehicle undertook
  • Possible statements from witnesses 
  • Any police involvement 
With this evidence, insurance companies determine percentages of fault and how much money they will distribute to the necessary parties. 

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence? 

Idaho car insurance laws
follow the guidelines of partial comparative negligence, so you will be able to recover claims from another driver’s insurer as long as you were 49% or less at fault for the accident. The amount that you can recover in your claim will depend on how the percentage of fault is dispersed. 
For example, let’s say you and another driver both hit each other when backing out of a parking spot. After reviewing evidence, the other driver’s insurer determines you are equally liable because each driver failed to check their rearview mirror. Because the degree of fault is 50/50 in this case, neither you nor the other driver would be entitled to recover damages
In another scenario, let’s say you’re crossing an intersection and a car
runs a red light
and hits you. You file a claim, and the insurance company determines that you were 10% at fault because you were speeding, but the other driver is 90% at fault for
texting while driving
and failing to obey a traffic light. Because the other driver is more at fault, they are not entitled to recover damages from your insurer
However, since you are still 10% at fault, the amount you receive in damages will be reduced by 10%. If the accident costs you $10,000 in damage and medical bills, the other driver is only responsible for covering up to $9,000—you are responsible for the rest.
Key Takeaway In Idaho, the total damages you can recover will be reduced by the percentage you are at fault. If you are more than 49% at fault, you are not entitled to recovering damages.  

How to find affordable car insurance

When an accident occurs, having good
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Yes—you can generally expect your rate to increase by at least 20% if you’re found at fault for an accident. This number will vary depending on your insurance provider and other factors like your demographics, driving history, and percentage of fault.
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