Who is Responsible for Medical Bills After an Accident in Iowa?

Who is Responsible for Medical Bills After an Accident in Iowa?

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Scott Grimes rammed his car head-on into Amber Martinez’s vehicle in Urbandale as he attempted to flee from pursuing police officers. Amber Martinez spent 28 days in a coma due to the collision. 

Grimes had reportedly escaped from Warren County jail a week prior by sneaking out of his cell and through an open stairwell door while a jailer was distributing medication. Martinez sustained several injuries, including a collapsed lung and two broken vertebrae in her neck. 

Martinez and her two children filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming the officers were aware of the potential danger of pursuing a dangerous suspect through rush-hour traffic and their actions put innocent bystanders at risk.

However, the Iowa supreme court determined there was no evidence to suggest State Trooper Brett Tjepkes knew or should have known pursuing Grimes posed a significant risk of harm. The state trooper was not held accountable for his involvement, while Grimes was rearrested.

What is a Third-Party Liability in Personal Injury Cases?

If someone is involved in an accident causing property damage or injury to someone else, they may be held liable for the resulting damages. The involved party could be financially responsible for the cost of repairing any damage to the other person’s property or for medical expenses they incur as a result of their injuries.

In South Milwaukee, a college graduate collected a $500 bill after a distracted driver from the fire department crashed into his parked car. Iowa is a “modified comparative fault” state, which means each driver’s degree of fault for an accident is considered when determining damages.

If an individual has auto insurance, their policy will likely include liability coverage. It can help cover the costs of damages or injuries they are responsible for. Iowa has minimum insurance requirements, and drivers are required to carry liability insurance with minimum limits of:

  • $20,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident
  • $40,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people in an accident
  • $15,000 for property damage in an accident

If the damages or injuries exceed the policy limits, the individual could be personally responsible for paying the difference.

How Personal Injury Protection Coverage Works in Iowa

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is an optional type of insurance coverage in Iowa. PIP provides medical expense coverage and wage loss benefits for drivers and passengers in case of a car accident, regardless of who is at fault.

Here’s how it works in Iowa:

  • Coverage Limits: Iowa’s minimum PIP coverage limit is $1,000, but drivers can purchase higher limits if they choose.
  • Medical Expenses: PIP coverage pays for medical expenses, including hospitalization, surgery, and therapy, up to the coverage limit. The coverage applies to the policyholder, passengers, and family members driving the insured vehicle. If the injured person has health insurance, PIP will pay the deductibles and the coinsurance to pay the balance.
  • Lost Wages: PIP coverage provides lost wage benefits to the injured person up to the coverage limit. This coverage reimburses the injured person for the wages they lost due to the accident and any disability resulting from it.
  • Other Expenses: PIP coverage may cover additional expenses related to the accident, such as household services, childcare, or transportation to medical appointments.
  • No-Fault System: Iowa operates on a “no-fault” system, which means each driver’s insurance policy pays for their medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of the responsible party. However, Iowa also operates under a “modified no-fault” system, meaning drivers must carry liability insurance to cover damages they cause to others in an accident.

PIP coverage is optional in Iowa, and drivers can choose whether to purchase this coverage. If a driver decides not to purchase PIP coverage, they may still have coverage for medical expenses and lost wages under their health insurance policy or their car insurance policy’s liability coverage.

Determining Fault in an Accident in Iowa

An Iowa woman received bond modification after being involved in an accident following a pursuit by law enforcement. Tori Lyn Craver was charged with multiple felonies, including one count of resisting arrest, detention, and stop by fleeing, which created a significant risk of injury or death to others. 

Craver’s bond was initially set at $50,000 cash only and later reduced to $500 with amended conditions. 

In Iowa, fault in an accident is based on the following factors: 

  • Negligence: Negligence refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care to prevent harm to others. If one party is negligent in causing the accident, they may be assigned a higher percentage of fault.
  • Traffic laws: Violating traffic laws, such as speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield the right of way, can contribute to determining fault in an accident.
  • Witness statements: Statements from witnesses who saw the accident can provide valuable information about what happened and who was at fault.
  • Police report: The police report may include information such as the location of the accident, the weather conditions, and any citations that were issued. This is considered valuable information and can help determine who was at fault.
  • Vehicle damage: The extent of the damage to the vehicles involved can help to determine fault. For example, if one vehicle is significantly more damaged than the other, it may indicate the vehicle’s driver was more at fault.

Once fault is determined, the parties involved can negotiate a settlement or take the matter to court to have a judge or jury determine the amount of damages each party is responsible for paying.

The Role of an Attorney in Accident Cases 

Accident Injury Law

The role of an attorney is to provide legal representation to individuals injured or who have suffered damages due to an accident. Whether it is a car accident, workplace accident, slip and fall, or any other type of accident, an attorney can help the injured party navigate the legal system and seek compensation for their losses.

An attorney can help clients get the medical treatment they need and ensure they receive fair compensation for their injuries, including:

They can also help their client understand the long-term consequences of their injuries and seek compensation for future medical care and lost earning potential.

Finally, Des Moines car accident attorney can help their client navigate the legal process, which can be complex and overwhelming for someone unfamiliar with it. They can assist clients understand their rights, negotiate with insurance companies, and file legal claims, if necessary. Contact or call us at 515-444-4000 as soon as possible for a free consultation.