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Idaho Product Liability Laws

Whether you're growing potatoes or hiking in the wilderness, Idahoans love their wide-open spaces. But occasionally, a defective product can throw a wrench into the daily rhythm. Fortunately, the state's product liability laws provide a means for holding manufacturers and sellers accountable for their dangerous products. So, even if your farming equipment or camping gear does malfunction, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.

Below is a table which outlines key aspects of Idaho's product liability laws, followed by more in-depth explanations of the state's filing deadlines, damages rules, common defenses, and more.

Statute of Limitations 2 years (Sec. 6-1403 and Sec. 5-219)
Discovery Rule Used Yes (Sec. 5-219)
Statute of Repose 10 years (with exceptions) (Sec. 6-1403)
Limits on Damages Economic loss rule (Duffin v. Idaho Crop Improvement Ass'n, 895 P.2d 1195 (Idaho 1995))
Comparative Fault Modified Comparative Negligence (Sec. 6-1404)

Time Limits

Plaintiffs in Idaho usually have just two years from the date of injury, death, or property damage in which to file a product liability lawsuit. This is known as the "statute of limitations." In some limited cases involving fraud, the discovery rule measures the deadline from when you knew, or should have discovered, the damage. Subject to exceptions, the state further limits these deadlines by its statute of repose which encourages courts to prohibit actions 10 years after the product was first sold.

Limits on Damages

Idaho also limits damages in some cases. The state's modified comparative negligence rule prohibits compensation if the court decides that you were 50 percent or more at fault for causing the injury or property damage. If you were less than 50 percent to blame, your action isn't prohibited, but your compensation will be reduced in proportion to the amount of responsibility attributed to you. So, for example, a $70,000 award will be reduced to $63,000 if you were 10 percent at fault.

Idaho's economic loss rule also limits damages in some cases. Under this rule, tort claims are barred if the only harm that occurred was to the product itself.

Theories of Liability

Product liability lawsuits in Idaho can be based on negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. These actions usually include claims that the plaintiff was harmed by a design defect, manufacturing defect, or insufficient warnings. To prove that a product is defective, the plaintiff must show that it is unreasonably dangerous from the perspective of the ordinary user or consumer for whose use the product was intended.

In design defect claims, the argument is that there is something inherently dangerous about the manufacturer's design. Manufacturing defects, on the other hand, are faults that occur during the production process, despite an otherwise safe design. In failure to warn cases, the plaintiff argues that the manufacturer had a duty to warn users of unreasonably dangerous aspects of its product, but failed to do so. This duty continues even if the manufacturer or seller discovers the defect after the product has been designed and manufactured.

Common Defenses

In Idaho, manufacturers and certain sellers in a product liability suit may assert a number of different defenses. One is that the harm was caused after the product's "useful safe life" had expired. This is usually considered the time during which the product would normally be likely to perform in a safe manner. Some distributors may also deny liability by arguing that they received and sold the product in a sealed package or container, and could not have inspected the product to discover the defect. Defendants may also contend that damages should at least be reduced because the plaintiff knew about and assumed the risks of a dangerous product, or because the harm was caused by modifications to or misuse of the product.

Questions about Products Liability? Get Help from an Idaho Attorney

Whether you were hurt by some new fly-fishing gear or defective snow tires, you may be able to recover damages from the manufacturer or seller. While there are many detailed laws, you shouldn't be deterred by the state's deadlines or contributory negligence rules. Start your recovery process by getting help from a local attorney familiar with Idaho's product liability laws.

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