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According to data compiled by the Idaho government, there were 2,051 truck accidents in the state in 2021, compared to 1,881 the year before. 34 truck crashes resulted in fatalities in 2021, a small decline from the 38 total in 2020. Large trucks, such as semitrailer-tractor combinations and bobtails, make up a significant portion of these accident statistics. In 2020, Idaho alone accounted for 1% of all fatal truck collisions nationwide.

Due to its sheer size and impact strength, a truck accident results in more severe damage than a car accident. The state has put laws in place to guide motorists and pedestrians about their rights as well as their duty of care when using local roadways. Additionally, there is insurance legislation specifically implemented to meet the needs of truck accident victims.

Idaho Chain Law

Idaho’s extreme winters cause unsafe road conditions, which may lead to accidents. The state implemented a chain law, Idaho Statutes Section 49-948, which requires commercial motor vehicles traversing mountain passes to use tire chains during these conditions following advance notices to do so from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD). The chain law only applies to commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle/combination weight rating exceeding 26,000 pounds, predominantly trucks, as specified in Idaho Statutes Section 49-123. Truckers must chain at least one tire on each drive axle and one axle at or close to the back of the vehicle. 

The chain law only takes effect in specific areas: 

  • Interstate 90 – Fourth of July Pass and Lookout Pass

  • State Highway 12 – Lolo Pass

The ITD is responsible for determining if road conditions require chains and shall provide the public with several advance notices as well as opportunities for commercial vehicles to pull off the road. 

“Chains” are defined in Idaho Statutes Section 49-104 as two metal circular loops positioned on either side of the tire. 

 Idaho Hours-of-Service Regulations

Driver fatigue is one of the top causes of truck accidents in the country. A 2021 report released by the ITD shows that fatigue (drowsy or asleep) contributed to 5% of single-vehicle crashes in the state. 17.2% of drivers were also reported as having fallen asleep while driving in a country-wide survey conducted by The Zebra, an insurance comparison site. This is why obtaining driver logs is crucial to building truck accident cases. To combat fatigue-related accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established hours-of-service (HOS) regulations to govern how many hours commercial truck drivers can spend on duty. Code of Federal Regulations Title 49 Part 395.2 specifies the following HOS rules: 

Drivers of Property-Carrying Motor Vehicles

  • Must only drive 11 hours max following 10 consecutive off-duty hours

  • Must not drive after 14 consecutive on-duty hours

  • Must take a break of 30 consecutive minutes after eight cumulative hours of driving (the break period should be non-driving, e.g., off-duty, on-duty but not driving, sleeping).

  • Must not exceed 60 on-duty driving hours in total, if taking an on-duty period of seven consecutive days

  • Must not exceed 70 on-duty driving hours in total, if taking an on-duty period of eight consecutive days

  • Must take 34 consecutive off-duty hours before starting a new seven or eight-day on-duty period

  • Can divide their 10-hour off-duty time into multiple periods as long as one period is spent using the sleeper berth for seven consecutive hours. 

  • Can extend the 11-hour driving and 14-hour on-duty limit up to two hours in adverse driving conditions

Drivers of Passenger-Carrying Motor Vehicles

  • Must only drive 10 hours max following eight consecutive off-duty hours

  • Must not drive after 15 consecutive on-duty hours

  • Must not exceed 60 on-duty driving hours in total, if taking an on-duty period of eight consecutive days

  • Must not exceed 70 on-duty driving hours in total, if taking an on-duty period of eight consecutive days

  • Must spend at least eight hours using the sleeper berth. The eight-hour sleeper berth period may be split as long as each period is no less than two hours

  • Can extend the 10-hour driving and 15-hour on-duty limit up to two hours in adverse driving conditions

Idaho Hit-and-Run Law

Hit-and-run truck accident victims are urged to file a lawsuit to seek compensation as well as punish the driver’s criminal act of fleeing. Leaving the scene of an accident that results in the harm or death of others is a felony punishable by a fine or incarceration in the state prison, according to Idaho Statutes Section 18-8007

The statute requires the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident to:

  • Immediately stop and remain at the accident scene

  • Provide assistance to the injured person

  • Provide his or her name, address, insurance company or agent name, and his or her vehicle’s registration number to the injured person

  • Show his/her driver’s license to the injured person

A hit-and-run truck accident is also one of the rare cases where the victim may be able to claim punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish acts of gross negligence or recklessness. It is awarded to the victim on top of economic and non-economic damages.  

Idaho Truck Accident Reporting Law

One of the most important pieces of evidence when making a truck accident claim is the police report. Drivers involved in a vehicular accident in Idaho are legally obligated to report or cause the incident to be reported through the quickest means possible. Idaho Statutes Section 49-1305 requires an accident to be reported to the local police, county sheriff, or state police if it results in: 

  • An injury,

  • A death, or

  • Property damage to a single person amounting to over $1,500

If the drivers are physically unable to report the accident right away, but there are other people in the vehicles, one of the other people must make the report or make sure the report is made. The quickest way to have the accident reported is by calling 911. The truck accident victim is advised to provide their details and recollection of the incident to the responding police officer so that their side of the story is documented. 

Idaho Truck Speed Limits

According to the traffic crash data gathered by the ITD in 2021, speeding is the top contributing circumstance in vehicle accidents. It accounted for 22% of single-vehicle crashes and 5% of multi-vehicle crashes. Motorists using Idaho roadways have a duty of care to operate their vehicles at a reasonable speed considering both potential and actual dangers. Breaching this duty of care may be seen as negligence and negatively impact a truck accident claim due to Idaho’s modified comparative negligence doctrine. 

Unless otherwise posted on location, no individual shall drive beyond the speed limits specified under Idaho Statutes Section 49-654:

  • Within residential, urban, and business districts – 35 miles per hour

  • On interstate highways – 75 miles per hour

  • On state highways – 65 miles per hour

  • Other locations – 55 miles per hour

For trucks with a gross vehicle weight of over 26,000 pounds and equipped with five or more axles, the following speed limits apply: 

  • Interstate highways within non-urban areas – 10 miles per hour

  • Interstate highways within urban areas – 65 miles per hour

Idaho Commercial Trucking Insurance Requirements

All motor carriers, including trucks, operating on public highways must be insured and carry a copy of the insurance policy in the vehicle while operating. This is according to Idaho Statutes Section 49-1229

Bodily Injury Liability

When the truck is at fault for a collision, bodily injury liability coverage takes care of injuries suffered by the other driver and/or their passengers. In Idaho, trucks are required to carry $500,000 in bodily injury insurance for each accident.

Property Damage Liability

Property damage liability coverage handles losses to property caused by a truck collision, such as a broken telephone pole or the other driver's damaged vehicle. Commercial trucks in Idaho are required to have a $100,000 property damage liability per accident.

Cargo Liability

To protect the goods they are transporting in the event that they are stolen or destroyed while in transit, truckers are required to have cargo liability insurance. The standard cargo liability coverage for trucks in Idaho is $100,000 per incident.

Note that the minimum insurance requirements for commercial trucks in Idaho may differ depending on:

  • The type of carrier

  • The type of cargo being transported

  • The size of the vehicle

  • Whether the truck is being operated intrastate or interstate

For instance, motor carriers of hazardous materials must carry a minimum surety bond coverage (for property damage, environmental restoration, death, or injury) of $5 million per accident. Trucks transporting oil must carry $1 million in surety bond coverage. Carriers of non-hazardous commodities have a lower requirement of $750,000. 

How Much Can Someone Sue for a Truck Accident in Idaho?

When it comes to economic damages, such as property damage and medical bills, truck accident victims can be awarded the full amount of their claim as these are actual and calculable damages. However, Idaho imposes a cap on non-economic or intangible damages, such as pain and suffering and reduced quality of life. According to Idaho Statutes Section 6-1603, judgments for non-economic damages in personal injury lawsuits may not exceed $250,000. This non-economic damage cap may be lifted in circumstances where the damages were brought on by the defendant's deliberate misconduct or recklessness or the commission of a criminal act like driving under the influence.

Idaho Statute of Limitations for Truck Accidents

Idaho has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases. The victim must file their claim in court within two years from the date of the truck accident that caused the injury. An exception exists for truck accident victims who are minors, wherein the two-year statute starts running from the victim’s 18th birthday. However, Idaho law also prohibits tolling or pausing personal injury cases for longer than six years, even on account of a minority. Parents of minor truck accident victims must take this timeline into consideration when filing a personal injury claim on behalf of their child.

If a truck accident causes a fatality, the victim's legal representative (often the spouse, adult children, or parents) has two years from the date of the victim's passing to bring forth a wrongful death claim. The same two-year statute of limitations applies to wrongful death cases involving minors.

Idaho Is a Fault State for Insurance Claims

The state uses a tort-based insurance system that is based on fault. This means that before an insurance claim can be made, a party must be determined to be "at fault." The system also holds the negligent party or their insurance provider liable for the claimant's losses and damages. The claimant must present evidence to establish that the other party was to blame for the incident that caused their injury or damages.

Idaho Is a Modified Comparative Negligence State for Trucking Accident Lawsuits

Under Idaho’s modified comparative negligence system, being partly at fault for the truck accident does not bar an individual from recovering damages as long as they are no more than 49% at fault. Being half responsible for the accident bars an individual from claiming financial compensation for their damages. The system also reduces the claimant's compensation award in proportion to their percentage of fault in the accident. For example, if the claimant was awarded $50,000 for their injuries and losses but was found to be 30% at fault for texting while driving, their award will also get a 30% reduction. Hence, the claimant will only be taking home $35,000.

Average Settlement for Idaho Trucking Accident Lawsuits

A truck accident settlement should help the victim recover from specific economic losses, such as house modification costs due to the loss of a limb, as well as non-economic losses, like the loss of professional security for an injured athlete. Each settlement will therefore be unique for each truck accident case. The court will also apply the modified comparative negligence rule in the final judgment, which may have a significant impact on how much the victim ultimately receives. For instance, if the victim is awarded $100,000 in damages but is found to be 20% at fault for speeding, the award will also get a 20% reduction. As a result, the victim will only receive $80,000 in total. An experienced personal injury attorney can help identify all applicable damages and maximize the claim's value to address the victim's current and future needs, as well as the attorney’s own professional fees.

Legal Resources for Idaho Trucking Accident Victims

This national organization is exclusively dedicated to providing legal advice to individuals online regarding personal injury and accidents, including commercial trucking accidents. It has a network of injury lawyers across the country who can provide injury case reviews free of charge to personal injury plaintiffs. The plaintiff can also choose to be represented by the lawyer providing the review. 

Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program

This program by the Idaho Law Foundation offers pro-bono legal aid to Idaho citizens for various civil issues, including personal injury, divorce, and bankruptcy. Truck accident victims can apply to receive legal services from volunteer attorneys. The applicant’s income and the assets of individuals living in their residences are considered to determine eligibility for the program. 

Access Idaho Crash Records

The ITD maintains this online portal and makes traffic collision reports available for purchase for $9. It may take a few weeks after the accident for the crash report to be available online. Crash reports can be pulled up by entering identifying details, such as the case ID, names of individuals involved in the crash, and the location and date of the crash.

Idaho State Bar Lawyer Referral Service

The Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) operates as a public service of the Idaho State Bar. All members of the LRS are in good standing with the Idaho State Bar, have no pending public disciplinary complaints, and carry professional liability insurance. LRS attorneys offer clients a free initial half-hour consultation, with personal injury cases receiving a free referral. After the initial consultation, further fees will be negotiated between the lawyer and the client. 

iCourt Project Information Site

Idaho has transitioned statewide to the new iCourt electronic online system, where citizens can look up court records, pay fees, and obtain county contact information. It also accommodates the online filing of legal documents. All online payments have a 3.5% credit card transaction fee.

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