Idaho is home to nearly two million people, and its population has grown from 2020 to 2021 by about 3.4 percent. Idaho has been considered the fastest-growing state for the past five years. It also has about 1.9 million cars registered within the state. The number of registered vehicles in 2021 increased by 13 percent from 2020. In addition, the statewide number of miles traveled increased by 11 percent during the same time.
In 2021, there were 27,547 total crashes, which was a 22.3 percent increase over the number of accidents in 2020. There were also 244 fatal accidents, an increase of nearly 30 percent from 2020. The fatality rate based on miles driven was 1.40, a 13.9 percent increase from 2020.
The Idaho Transportation Department notes that the increase is likely due to the dramatic decrease in crashes that occurred because of COVID-19 during 2020. However, Idaho’s crash numbers are still usually less than the average state in the United States. In 2020, however, Idaho saw a 36-percent increase in accidents, while the rest of the nation had about a 12-percent increase.
So far in 2022 (through October 31, 2022), Idaho has seen 141 traffic fatalities. There have been 20,454 total crashes, which means that 2022 is tracking to have far fewer accidents and fatalities compared to 2021. Nonetheless, accidents are still very common. A car crash is certainly something that can still happen to you. Having an Idaho car accident lawyer help can be very beneficial.
When an accident happens to you or a loved one, it can feel overwhelming and confusing. An insurance company might reach out immediately to get more information and ask you to settle your personal injury case.
Talking with an Idaho car accident attorney can help you understand your rights. They will also ensure you understand what is happening after a crash from a legal perspective and why.
Car Accident Statistics
The year 2020 brought about some unique trends regarding traffic accidents in Idaho. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) increased its interest in apprehending intoxicated drivers, thanks to a federal grant. In 2020, the ITD arrested more than 150 people during grant-funded activities.
In 2021, impaired driving, such as from alcohol or drug involvement, accounted for 27 percent of fatal crashes. It also made up eight percent of injury crashes and six percent of all accidents.
Speeding was also a serious concern in 2020. The ITD thought the cause was that there were fewer people on the road due to the pandemic. Fewer drivers on the road made them feel like speeding was more acceptable. In fact, driving too fast for the conditions was the fourth-most common contributing factor to crashes in 2020. The top three contributing circumstances were:
- Failure to yield
- Following too closely
Together, the top reasons for accidents accounted for 13,059 crashes in 2020. Each investigating officer can select up to three contributing factors per crash. So each factor may have been present in more than one accident.
The same reasons caused crashes in 2021 as well. In 2021, the top seven contributing factors for all crashes were:
- Inattention or distraction
- Failure to yield
- Following too closely
- Failure to maintain lane
- Drug or alcohol involvement
- Failure to obey stop sign or stop light
So far, in 2022, speeding has fallen to the fifth-most contributing factor. “Failed to Maintain Lane” crept into the top four factors. Ultimately, driver error is often the leading cause of car accidents across the country, and that statistic still holds true in 2022.
Accident Reporting Requirements in Idaho
Every state has slightly different laws and requirements to receive compensation for damages after a car accident. An Idaho car accident attorney can help car crash victims understand their rights after a car accident, no matter why the accident occurred.
For instance, Idaho drivers are required to report accidents to the police if the accident meets certain criteria:
- The accident resulted in the injury or death of any person
- The crash caused at least $1,500 in property damages
Drivers or anyone else involved in the crash should report the accident to the local police department. If the driver is injured and cannot report the accident, then any passenger involved in the accident has a legal obligation to report it.
Damage Limitations in Idaho
Money damages are often available after a car accident in Idaho. However, Idaho limits non-economic damages to $250,000, a cap that adjusts annually. A jury will be informed of this cap as part of the trial process and cannot award damages above this limit.
Defining Economic Damages
Economic damages after a car accident are the items that are easier to quantify. There is a direct dollar value loss associated with it. Examples of economic damages might include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Vehicle repairs or replacement costs
- Rental car expenses
- Future loss of income
Defining Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are losses that are not easily quantifiable. They are very real losses, but they are generally not associated with a hard dollar value. They are difficult to determine, and a jury must often decide what kind of dollar figure makes sense to compensate for damages such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of affection or companionship
- Emotional distress
- Disfigurement or scarring
Every case is different. An Idaho car accident attorney will be able to review the damages in a car accident case to determine what kind of compensation might be available. An Idaho car accident lawyer can also help present all losses and damages that a car accident victim has suffered to an insurance company, judge, or jury.
Legal Liability for Vehicle Owners in Idaho
Idaho’s laws regarding motor vehicle accidents are very clear. They not only set out that the driver is legally responsible for any damage they cause — but the vehicle’s owner could be legally liable as well.
Idaho laws set out that each owner of a vehicle is legally responsible for the death or injury of another person. This is true as long as the operator of that vehicle used the car with permission from the owner.
When the vehicle owner and the driver are not the same person, Idaho laws essentially permit victims to involve more than one defendant. For car accident victims, having this additional person involved in a lawsuit can increase the likelihood that they are fully paid for their losses. However, these situations can quickly become complicated. Having an Idaho car accident attorney can help to assist with this type of claim.
Proving ordinary negligence in Idaho is very similar to other states. To get money damages for the accident, the car accident victim must prove the four elements of ordinary negligence. An Idaho car accident lawyer can help with this process.
1. The wrongdoer had a duty to the car accident victim.
Duty is a legal responsibility to do or refrain from doing something. In Idaho, every driver has a duty to others to operate their vehicle in a safe manner. They also have the duty to follow the rules of the road.
2. The wrongdoer breached their duty to the car accident victim.
A breach of duty involves someone violating their legal responsibilities. In most cases, any violation of the rules of the road can be a breach of duty in Idaho. Speeding, driving while impaired, and distracted driving can all be a breach of the duty that drivers have to safely operate their vehicles.
3. The wrongdoer’s breach of duty caused the accident.
A car accident victim must also show that the wrongdoer caused the crash, and the accident in turn caused the victim’s damages. In some cases, causation can be very easy to prove. If you did not have a broken leg before the accident but you have a broken leg after the accident, the cause might be straightforward.
In other situations, you might need a medical expert or accident reconstruction expert to help prove causation. It may be helpful to involve an Idaho car accident lawyer in these more complicated cases.
4. The wrongdoer caused the accident victim’s damages.
Every legal case must involve some kind of damage. Monetary compensation is designed to put car accident victims back in the place they would have been if the accident had never happened. If there are no damages from the accident, then there would be no reason to receive money damages — there are no losses to address.
Keep in mind that damages do not have to be physical or even visible. In some cases, mental anguish or mental pain and suffering are enough to trigger a car accident claim. Talk to an Idaho car accident lawyer for more information about this unique aspect of car accident damages.
Idaho’s Collateral Source Rule
In Idaho, damages can still be presented to a jury even if someone else paid for those losses. The most common example is when a health insurance company pays for some or all of a car accident victim’s medical expenses. The jury considers the full amount of the loss when they provide a verdict in a trial. After that, however, the court can reduce the amount awarded if someone else or another entity paid for all or part of those damages.
In other states, collateral sources are irrelevant, in large part because the third party that paid some of the losses will expect that they are reimbursed (at least in part) if the car accident victim recovers money from a third party for whatever expense the third party paid. This concept is referred to as subrogation.
In Idaho, however, specific laws target the potential for “double recovery.” That is, if there is any third-party payment that decreases the car accident victim’s losses, the judge will consider that and decrease the damages award. However, the decrease will not apply to any benefits paid under subrogation rights, with health insurance companies being the most common example.
As a result, Idaho does not have a traditional collateral source rule, but insurance companies can still be repaid if a car accident victim recovers damages for things like medical expenses or property damage. Talk to an Idaho car accident lawyer to find out more about the collateral source rule that might affect your car accident case.
Dram Shop Liability
Idaho has dram shop laws that can make an entity like a restaurant or bar legally liable for damages caused by an intoxicated patron. Social hosts who provide alcohol can also be liable for a car accident caused by a drunk driver.
In general, to prove dram shop liability in Idaho, the car accident victim must show the following:
- The person who caused the injury was under 21, and the person who furnished the alcohol knew or should have known that the person was under 21; or
- The person who caused the injury was “obviously intoxicated,” so the person who gave them alcohol knew or should have known that they were drunk.
Idaho law essentially puts some of the burden on restaurants and bars to stop overserving people who are clearly drunk or underage. The same rules apply to social hosts as alcohol vendors.
Idaho has a unique notice provision for their dram shop liability as well. Those who will assert a dram shop action must give the vendor or social host notice of the claim within 180 days of the accident.
This extremely short period means that car accident victims must act quickly and contact an Idaho car accident lawyer as soon as possible after their accident if alcohol was a factor in the crash.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is a legal concept that states that if someone violates a statute or ordinance, that conclusively provides the first two elements of ordinary negligence. In those situations, the only facts that a car accident victim must prove are that the statute was violated, the violation caused the accident, and the car accident victim suffered damages.
Violating the rules of the road is negligence per se in Idaho. The rationale behind the concept is that the Idaho Legislature has already determined how a reasonable driver should act by establishing the rules of the road. Learn more about this concept and decide whether or not it applies to your situation by speaking with an Idaho car accident attorney.
Idaho is a modified comparative negligence state. That means if a car accident victim is partially at fault for an accident, the victim (plaintiff) can still assert a legal claim against a wrongdoer (defendant). However, the percentage of their fault will reduce the overall recovery that they can receive. If the plaintiff’s fault is more than the defendant’s fault (over 50 percent), then the victim cannot recover anything. An Idaho car accident attorney can help explain this concept more in-depth and determine whether it applies to your situation.
Crash Statistics in the Five Largest Cities in Idaho
Boise is Idaho’s capital city, and it has the largest population in the state. It is home to 241,686 people, according to 2022 figures.
In 2020, the last year that full data is available, Boise saw 2,788 crashes, and those accidents included seven fatalities and 991 injuries.
Meridian has a population of 126,143. It has one of the highest percentages of growth from 2020 to 2022 of any city in Idaho; it just misses the top ten and comes in at number 11.
Compared to its high population, the number of accidents in Meridian was relatively low during 2020. Meridian had 1,680 accidents; of those, just one resulted in a fatality, and 719 involved injuries.
Nampa, Idaho, is home to 103,928 people. Nampa had 1,675 accidents in 2020. Those crashes resulted in four fatalities and 586 injuries.
Idaho Falls has a population of 66,418. In 2020, Idaho Falls had 767 accidents that resulted in just one fatality and 280 injuries.
Caldwell rounds out the top five cities in Idaho with a population of 62,748. In 2020, Caldwell saw 753 accidents, which included four fatalities and 309 injuries.
To find an Idaho car accident attorney near you, contact Accident.com.