Whenever you've suffered an injury as a result of a slip and fall on someone else's property in Idaho (whether it's residential or commercial property), it might make sense to look into your options for getting compensation for your losses -- especially if it looks like the negligence of the property owner played a part in what happened.
A number of Idaho laws will almost certainly affect any lawsuit you decide to file over your slip and fall. Two of the most important of these are the statute of limitations deadline for filing a slip and fall case in Idaho's court system, and the state's "comparative negligence" rule, which can limit your right to recover compensation if you bear some amount of responsibility for the accident. Even if you're pretty sure your case will reach a personal injury settlement out of court, you still need to keep these state laws in mind, so read on for the details.
First, a little background: A statute of limitations is a state law that sets a strict time limit on the right to have a lawsuit heard in civil court. Specific time limits vary from state to state, and depending on the kind of case being filed.
Idaho Statutes section 5-219 sets the statute of limitations that will apply to almost all injury lawsuits arising from a slip and fall accident. This law gives you two years to ask the Idaho civil courts for a remedy for any kind of personal injury caused by someone else. So, a lawsuit against a property owner or manager of property, alleging that unsafe conditions on the property led to an injury, is subject to this two-year filing deadline.
If you only had your personal property damaged as a result of the slip and fall (maybe you broke an expensive phone when you fell) any lawsuit for the repair or replacement of that damaged property must be filed within three years, and that time limit is set by Idaho Statutes section 5-218.
In either kind of case -- whether the lawsuit is for injury or property damage, or both -- the "clock" starts running on the date of the slip and fall, and the success or failure of your case will most likely turn on whether you can prove that the defendant failed to take reasonable steps to keep the property safe and to prevent your accident. Learn more about premises liability and proving fault for a slip and fall.
The next logical question is, "What happens if I don’t get my lawsuit started before the deadline passes?" You can count on the defendant (the property owner) asking the court to dismiss the case, and the court is almost sure to grant the dismissal. That's why it’s so crucial to understand the statute of limitations and abide by the time limit as it applies to your specific situation.
In some rare situations the clock may pause or "toll," giving you more time to get your case started. Talk to a personal injury attorney for the details on these exceptions in Idaho.
If you're thinking about making a claim against a property owner for injuries suffered in a slip and fall accident, be prepared to hear the other side argue that you bear some amount of responsibility for what happened. And be prepared to counter this argument, because if it is successful, you could see a significant chunk of your settlement or court award taken away.
Here's what the law says in Idaho regarding a plaintiff's shared fault in a personal injury case: "Contributory negligence or comparative responsibility shall not bar recovery in an action...to recover damages for negligence, gross negligence or comparative responsibility resulting in death or in injury to person or property, if such negligence or comparative responsibility was not as great as the negligence, gross negligence or comparative responsibility of the person against whom recovery is sought, but any damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion to the amount of negligence or comparative responsibility attributable to the person recovering."(Idaho Statutes section 6-801)
And here's a translation: Even if a jury finds you partly to blame for what happened, you can still get compensation from the property owner. But any damages award you receive from the court will be reduced by an amount equal to the percentage of fault that’s determined to be yours. For example, if you’re deemed 15 percent at fault and your damages are $10,000, you’ll only receive $8,500 (which is $10,000 minus 15 percent).
But if you're found to be 50 percent or more responsible for causing the incident that led to your slip and fall, you lose the case, and you can’t recover any compensation at all from the property owner or anyone else.
So, what kind of arguments can you expect to hear from the property owner? Some common allegations include:
It's easy to see why it’s crucial to make a strong case against the property owner in your Idaho slip and fall case. Learn more about comparative negligence in slip and fall cases.