Idaho Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

Tens of thousands of road accidents occur in Idaho every year, resulting in hundreds of deaths and over a thousand serious injuries. Fortunately, Idaho provides a comprehensive legal framework for victims seeking compensation.

Statute of Limitations: In Idaho, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit, and three years to file a lawsuit over property damage. Of course, as long as you file within two years, you can combine both of these claims into a single lawsuit.

If the Victim was Partially at Fault: If the victim shares the blame for the accident, Idaho courts will deduct a pro-rata portion from the victim’s damages – if he was 20 percent at fault, for example, his damages will be reduced by 20 percent. If the victim was at least 50 percent at fault, however, he will recover nothing.

Fault/No Fault Rule: Like most states, Idaho is a “fault” auto insurance state, meaning that an accident victim can directly file a lawsuit or a claim against the other driver’s liability insurance company.

Minimum Insurance Coverage: The minimum liability insurance coverage allowed by Idaho law is $25,000 per injured victim, $50,000 personal injury liability per accident, and $15,000 for property damage per accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers Coverage: Idaho does not require its drivers to purchase uninsured or underinsured driver insurance coverage, although this type of insurance is available to Idaho motorists.

Types of Damages Available: Compensatory damages are always available if they can be proven, including damages for abstract losses such as mental anguish. Punitive damages require clear and convincing evidence of malice or other bad faith on the part of the defendant, and they are limited to three times the amount of compensatory damages or $250,000, whichever is greater.

Product Liability for Defective Vehicles: Strict liability is available, and the existence of an unreasonably dangerous defect is determined by the consumer expectations test.

Suing the Government over Defective Roadways (Sovereign Immunity): The state is immune from lawsuits seeking damages over design defects in public roadways, but not necessarily from lawsuits over manufacturing defects. Private contractors enjoy no immunity from lawsuits.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: All riders under 18 must wear a helmet.

Seat Belt Laws: A seat belt infraction is a secondary offense in Idaho – the officer must stop you for committing another infraction before he is allowed to ticket you for not wearing a seatbelt. All occupants 7 years old and older must wear a seat belt. The maximum fine for a first offense is $10 for adults, but $51.50 for minors under 18.

Dram Shop Laws: Both vendors and social hosts face limited liability for providing alcohol to obviously intoxicated adults or minors under 21 if they proceed to injure someone while intoxicated.

DUI/DWI Penalties: A first offense can result in a jail term of up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000. The offender can lose his driver’s license for 90 to 180 days.

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): Idaho law bans texting and driving for all drivers.