There are over 228 million licensed drivers in the United States and over 2.2 million drivers in Iowa. Unfortunately, with that many drivers on the road, accidents are going to happen. Additionally, as distractions become more prevalent, accidents have increased. The truth is most accidents can be avoided. However, when one driver is reckless or negligent, the accident becomes unavoidable for the innocent party. Most accidents occur due to some type of negligence, whether it’s texting and driving, drunk driving, or failure to adhere to road signs.
Unfortunately, some accidents are fatal, which will likely result in a wrongful death claim. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that is not your fault, you will need to show the other party was negligent in order to receive fair compensation. Sometimes it is obvious when a party was at fault or negligent, but oftentimes, more evidence is needed. After a car accident, it is always best to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to go over your legal options.
The Iowa car accident attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC in Des Moines have over 50 years of combined experience handling such claims and will provide all clients with a free initial consultation and well-researched legal advice.
Why Hire Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC After an Auto Accident?
The car accidents attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC believe in providing honest, practical, and timely advice, which will allow you to focus on recovery and reduce the stress that comes with an accident claim or lawsuit.
Our law firm has experience dealing with insurance companies, as well as handling all court proceedings. We will always ensure your rights are protected—whether you want to bring your case to trial or come to a resolution through settlement negotiations. You deserve a settlement and outcome that is fair and just.
We understand that no two car accident cases are the same, which is why no two clients will ever be treated the same. Your case is unique and our team will thoroughly examine your case to get you the best possible resolution. We care about the outcome of your case and about helping you through the legal process.
PLLC are ready to meet with you to discuss your case, whether you choose to retain us or not. We offer all potential clients an initial free consultation. We want you to receive the assistance and guidance that is right for you in order to make an informed and educated decisions about your future.
Additionally, we can also help file a lawsuit on behalf of a loved one who was involved in a fatal car accident. Our car accident attorneys can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their estate.
What Can a Car Accident Attorney Do for You?
If you have been injured in an automobile accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Throughout the process, an attorney will represent your interests and will be committed to defending your rights.
A motor vehicle accident attorney might be incredibly beneficial to your car accident injury claim. These are just a few of the legal services offered to car accident victims:
- Conduct settlement discussion with the insurance company: the insurance company will generally try to take advantage of you because they never want to lose money. Handling the negotiations on your own can be stressful and may result in a lower reward than letting an attorney handle the insurance adjusters.
- Hold the responsible party liable: not all accidents are cut-and-dry. Sometimes, there can be more than one party responsible for your injuries. For example, there could be more than one driver involved, the car that caused the accident could have malfunctioned, which means the manufacturer or mechanic could be at fault, a pedestrian could be liable for your injuries, or other parties could also be liable for some or all of your injuries.
- Determine the damage award for your injuries: if proper documentation is not kept, it can be difficult to prove all damages that were incurred from the accident. An attorney can request these records and also hire professional experts to help determine the true value for your injuries. The hardest damage to prove is pain and suffering, but a skilled Iowa personal injury lawyer will have no trouble coming up with an exact figure to claim.
- Settlement negotiations: not only can an attorney help with insurance decisions, but they can also negotiate a settlement with the opposing party. This is important and can help avoid excessive or unnecessary court costs.
- Apply the proper laws and regulations: a personal injury lawyer is well-versed with the personal injury laws surrounding a car accident claim and they will be able to utilize the personal injury laws to provide you with a proper defense for a successful outcome./li>
You are not required to hire an attorney to file an auto accident claim, however, it is highly recommended that you consult with an Iowa personal injury attorney before speaking to the insurance company. It is especially imperative that you hire an attorney if you have suffered serious injuries or damage, if the other driver is uninsured, if the insurance company refuses your claim, or if any additional documents have been requested.
It is always in your best interest to hire an attorney if you want the best outcome possible. An experienced Iowa car accident attorney will fight to get you a favorable outcome and fair compensation.
What to Do After a Car Crash?
After a car accident, your safety should be the number one priority. There are certain precautions that can be taken in order to ensure your safety and the safety of everyone at the scene. The following tips can be useful if you are involved in an accident:
- Check yourself for any injuries and call 911
- Check on your passengers and see if others have been injured
- Move to a safe location
- Wait for help to arrive
- Take pictures of the scene
- Exchange information with the other driver or drivers
- Get a copy of the police report and information from any witnesses
When you obtain the information from the other driver, make sure you get their full name, insurance information, make and model of the car, license plate number, and the location of the accident. Additionally, take as many pictures as you can to properly document the accident—this will help when proving who was at fault.
How to File a Car Accident Claim in Iowa?
According to Iowa law, if you have been involved in a car accident that resulted in injury or death you must report the accident as soon as possible, which can be done by calling the local police. Furthermore, unless your local law enforcement agency files their own report, any accident in Iowa that results in death, injury, or property damage of $1,500 or more must be documented on an Iowa Accident Report form. If you do not file a report within 72 hours, your driving privileges will be suspended.
Additionally, insurance information coverage must be provided. Failure to provide proof of insurance coverage will result in a suspension of your Iowa driver’s license.
The next step would be to decide if you want to file a lawsuit against the responsible party and whether you would like to meet a resolution by settlement or trial. Generally, all claims will start with settlement negotiations. However, if you are unhappy with the settlement offer, your attorney can prepare your case for trial. Settlement conferences are not mandatory in Iowa, and you can choose to use the
court process and skip settlement discussions.
What Damages Can You Collect in a Car Accident Claim?
In Iowa, there are no limitations on the damages you can collect in an accident. However, there is one circumstance where your damages can be limited and that is if you are found to be partly at fault for the accident
(modified comparative fault law).
Economic and non-economic damages are the most common types of damages recoverable after a car accident. Non-economic damages include expenditures that are less quantifiable, such as:
- future earning potential
- pain and suffering
While economic damages include costs that are more calculable, like:
- auto repair
- future medical bills and other medical expenses
- lost wages
- past medical expenses
Typically, economic damages will be measured through information found in various documents, quotes, or receipts.
What If You Were in an Accident with an Uninsured Driver?
It can be time-consuming and difficult to sue the other driver for damages to cover any medical costs or repair costs if they do not have any—or adequate—coverage. That is where this optional insurance coverage can prove to be vitally important to save you time and money.
Even though uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not required in Iowa, you should still consider purchasing it. In Iowa, an average of
11.3% of drivers on the road do not have motor vehicle insurance, which means that if you get into an accident, the other driver has a 1 in 9 chance of not having coverage.
Insurance companies in Iowa must have the option of giving drivers the choice to buy uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage at a minimum of $20,000 a person and $40,000 per accident. Most policies will automatically have this coverage and you will have to opt-out in writing to not have UM/UIM coverage.
Proving Negligence After a Car Crash
Negligence is a legal principle that must be proven before a person or company can be held legally liable for the harm they caused. In most cases involving accidents or serious injuries, proving negligence is essential. Most, if not all, car accident lawsuits will be based on the legal theory of negligence, and the party making the claim has the burden of proof to show that all elements of negligence have been met.
The four elements that you must prove in order to have a successful negligence claim include:
- Breach of Duty
In a car accident, it is generally assumed that all drivers have a duty to all other road users, so the first element is typically the easiest to prove. Difficulties can arise when it comes to breach of duty and causation. The party making the claim must show that the driver breached their duty of care in some way (drunk driving, distracted driving, failing to yield, not signaling, excessive speed, etc.). Additionally, they must show that the breach of that duty was the exact cause of their injuries—there cannot be another superseding cause.
Finally, there must be some harm or damages that were suffered. This means that you must have suffered personal injuries and/or property damage to your car. If you can establish all elements of negligence, you will likely have a successful outcome.
Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident Claim in Iowa
A car accident in Iowa has a two-year
statute of limitations. This means you have two years from the date of the motor vehicle accident to initiate a personal injury case. The plaintiff loses their chance to bring a lawsuit when that time period has elapsed, and the defendant can no longer be held liable for your injuries.
Missing the reporting deadline for car accidents may be easier than you think. The statute of limitations is still in effect if you try to resolve the issue with insurance adjusters. Pre-negotiations do not delay the timeline, either. The clock starts from the time of the car accident and runs for exactly two years.
The plaintiff must file the lawsuit within the time limit set by the statute of limitations. It makes no difference whether the entire lawsuit takes longer to conclude than that. The plaintiff has the legal right to recover if he files within the two year time frame.
The two-year statute of limitations only applies to bodily injuries sustained. The plaintiff will have a longer period to file a property claim for damages to the vehicle after a motor vehicle accident. In Iowa, the
statute of limitations. for a property damage claim is five years.
Car Accident Statistics in Iowa
Iowa conducts an annual study of costs, damages, and injuries from car accident cases. The following are a few highlights outlined from the Iowa Department of Transportation:
- Excessive speeding remains a serious road safety concern. Citations for exceeding the speed limit by more than 25 mph are up 36% over the five-year average, according to law enforcement data. Drivers charged for exceeding 100 mph are also increasing rapidly, with a 32 percent increase over the five-year median.
- In the last ten years, approximately 3,500 people have died in road accidents in Iowa.
- In over 1,100 crashes, distracted driving was identified as a contributing factor. A distracted driver is more prone to cause rear-end collisions, rapidly shift lanes, fail to stay in their own lane, and a variety of other crash-inducing actions that can be exceedingly dangerous, if not fatal.
- Since 1925, Iowa has never had fewer than 300 highway deaths in a single year. There were 337 fatalities in 2020, compared to 336 in 2019, 319 in 2018, 331 in 2017, and 402 in 2016.
- The total cost of fatal crashes on Iowa’s streets and roads is more than $3.5 billion each year.
Distracted driving is one of the hardest statistics to capture; it is difficult to have concrete evidence of what occurred unless the at-fault driver explicitly states that they were using their phone or was distracted in other ways.
The Iowa DOT keeps a
daily log of how many accidents occur each day and how many accidents were fatal. As current data shows, there is a 36% increase in deadly accidents in the state of Iowa. This trend is likely to increase by the end of the year.
Distracted driving and excessive speed are two of the biggest issues facing Iowa roads. Iowa DOT has put together a
task force to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities. The point of this group is to educate drivers, enforce existing laws and traffic regulations, as well as enact new legislation that may reduce traffic risks—like prohibiting texting while driving.
Contact the Des Moines Car Accidents Attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC
If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, your safety and recovery should be your first priorities. We understand how stressful an accident can be, which is why we are here to help you get through it. We will walk you through every step of the insurance claim and legal process, ensuring that you are aware of all applicable laws and regulations. Our car accident attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC will always do what is in the best interest of the client, and we will work alongside you the entire way.
The personal injury attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC are committed to assisting anyone who has been injured as a result of another’s negligence. We sincerely care about our clients; you are never simply a file number or an attorney fee to us. We strive to treat each person with the same respect, care, and guidance that we would provide to our own family and friends.
After a car accident, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible. The statute of limitation laws in Iowa are strict and offer no leeway. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact us today to discuss your case and obtain proper legal advice through a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. You can reach us online or by phone at (515) 444-4000 Our offices are located in Des Moines, Iowa.