Motorcycle accidents in Iowa can be difficult to resolve. There are numerous questions that must be addressed. Who is at fault after the accident? Who will cover the cost of your motorcycle repair? Who will pay for your medical bills and related expenses? You should not be afraid to ask these questions and more. An accident is a stressful and frightening experience.
We are here to help you and fight for the recompense you deserve. The Iowa motorcycle accident attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC are ready to set up a free consultation today. Our law firm has been handling personal injury cases for a combined 50 years.
Why You Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
You may lack the information and experience that our motorcycle accident attorney possesses. They are more qualified to handle your case since they know how to work with the law and know how to apply specific personal injury law provisions to provide you with the best legal services possible.
When you are attempting to balance all the parts of your case and recuperate from your injuries, facts can be overseen. When you engage a lawyer, they take care of everything for you, giving you proper time to heal. This allows you to relax, recover, and not be concerned about the little intricacies of your case.
Personal injury attorneys know how to handle settlement negotiations and properly fight for their client’s rights. The settlement reached can cover missed wages, medical expenditures, and other income loss as a result of your motorcycle accident injuries. Additionally, an experienced personal injury lawyer can represent your loved ones in a wrongful death claim if they sustained fatal injuries in a motorcycle accident.
Getting the money you deserve can be more difficult than the accident itself for many people. An Iowa motorcycle accident lawyer will negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf, allowing you to avoid dealing with claim adjusters. Your lawyer will investigate who caused the accident, gather crucial evidence to support your case, identify the liable party or parties, and prepare everything you need for trial if the case is not settled to your satisfaction.
Responsibility of a Motorcyclist
Riding a motorcycle through the country roads of Iowa can be an enjoyable means of transportation. However, with ownership comes responsibility. Every motorcycle driver has certain duties they owe themselves and other drivers on the road. They must abide by all Iowa motorcycle laws.
The Iowa Motorcycle Operators Manual details the responsibilities of every licensed motorcyclist. Knowing the laws and your duties as a motorcycle operator will ensure the safety of you and those around you. Some of the main responsibilities of an Iowa motorcyclist include:
- Wear the correct gear: including a helmet, face, and eye protection, and protective clothing
- Obtain the right permits and licenses: all states require some form of license or permit to operate a motorcycle on the roadways
- Check your motorcycle: always inspect your motorcycle before each use for proper care and maintenance
- Drive responsibly: be visible, use signals, maintain proper spacing, and do not ride next to vehicles or another motorcycle in the same lane
Sometimes accidents are unavoidable. However, if you are ensuring your safe practice while driving, you can avoid some potential accidents. Oftentimes, motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the motorcycle driver but rather other roadway users. However, it is always best practice to follow all rules and guidelines for motorcycle operators outlined by the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Helmets are not required by Iowa law, but they are required in many states. Wearing protective gear and a helmet may still leave you injured but with less severe brain injuries or head injuries.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycles are difficult for motorists to notice and react to on roadways. Automobile drivers generally look for larger vehicles when maneuvering. Because of their stature, drivers frequently miss or overestimate the speeds of approaching motorcyclists. Motorcycle riders have limited protection in the event of an accident.
Moreover, there are many causes and factors that contribute to motorcycle accidents. The Iowa Department of Transportation has published common factors found in the majority of motorcycle accidents in the state, including:
- Judgment issues: Motorists making a left turn or approaching a stop sign frequently “misjudge speed” or “don’t see” an oncoming motorcycle.
- Speeding: More than one-third of Iowa’s fatal motorcycle accidents list “speed” as the cause.
- Driving under the influence: Motorcycle drivers were more intoxicated than any other type of motorist in fatal crashes. In fatal motorcycle accidents, more than a third of the riders tested positive for alcohol or drugs.
- Animal Crossing: Every year, more Iowa motorcycle operators die in deer-related incidents than other motorists.
Motorcycles are smaller, less stable, and handle in a different way than conventional automobiles. Because of their inexperience, age, or high-risk activities like intoxicated driving and speeding, motorcycle riders are subjected to a greater risk of collision.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
The most important thing is to seek medical attention as soon as possible following a motorcycle accident if you sustain injuries. Emergency responders on the scene of the motorcycle crash may recommend that you ride in an ambulance to the hospital to have your injuries thoroughly examined by doctors. Even if you decline to go to the hospital right after the accident, you should see a doctor for a checkup within the next day or two because some motorcycle injuries may not present themselves immediately.
If possible, immediately after a motorcycle wreck, you should take the following precautions:
- Get out of the way of the traffic
- Contact the police and call for an ambulance
- Collect information on the other driver and vehicle
- Do not remove your helmet or safety gear
- Gather information on any passers-by or witnesses.
- Keep an eye out for any unusual conduct from the other motorist
Do not engage in an argument with the other driver. When law enforcement authorities come on the scene, be calm and let them do their duties.
A passenger car driver may attempt to flee the scene after colliding with a motorcycle. A driver involved in an accident in Iowa is required by law to remain at the site and assist others. If the driver runs away from the scene, try to recall as much information about the vehicle as possible, such as the license plate number, make, model, and color, to assist law enforcement in locating the driver.
Liability in a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcyclists in Iowa are protected under Iowa motorcycle statutes, which hold negligent drivers accountable and liable to Iowa bikers. A motorcyclist injured in an Iowa motorcycle accident may be able to get fair compensation for injuries caused by the other driver’s negligence.
Iowa is a fault-prone state. This means that car accidents are governed by the law of negligence. In your Iowa motorcycle accident, the person who is found to be “at fault” for the accident may be held completely liable for your injuries and losses.
Moreover, you may also be able to claim damages if you were somewhat responsible for the accident but not entirely at fault. In other words, your share of the blame must be less than 50%. The percentage of fault that you are responsible for may lessen your damages. For example: If you were 25% at fault for the accident, your total damages would be lowered by 25%. In Iowa, this is referred to as Contributory Negligence or Comparative Fault.
You must file a lawsuit for injuries sustained after an Iowa motorcycle accident within two years of the date of the incident. This is known as the statute of limitations, and the same time restraint is placed on any personal injury claim in Iowa. There are certain exceptions to this and that is when property damage is involved. The statute of limitations to file a property claim for damages is five years.
Proving Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident
You must prove that someone else was negligent and explain how they were at fault for the accident before you can seek compensation in a motorcycle accident – or any other form of motor vehicle accident. Otherwise, you will not be able to make a valid claim for damages.
In any personal injury claim based on negligence, the following four elements must be met:
- Duty: A duty of care was owed by the at-fault driver. This meant that they were compelled by law to drive safely and responsibly in order to avoid harming themselves and others.
- Breach: The at-fault driver failed to fulfill his or her duty of care and therefore was in breach. This indicates that they did not drive safely or responsibly, as required by the law.
- Cause: The injuries suffered by the victim are a direct cause of the at-fault driver’s breach of their duty of care. Their actions or behaviors were irresponsible and careless.
- Damages: The result of the accident. The victim or victim’s property sustained damages from the accident caused by the at-fault driver.
Every motorist has a duty of care in the event of a motorcycle accident to operate in a way that does not cause direct harm to others. A driver is negligent if they fail to uphold their duty of care and cause an accident. In any injury accident, the person who is at fault is responsible for the damages. You have the right to claim damages as recompense for your injuries if you were injured in a motorbike accident.
What Damages Can You Collect in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
The amount of money you can get in a motorcycle accident depends on the severity of your injuries and property damage, as well as the insurance coverage that each driver has. Under Iowa law, you may be able your motorcycle accident claim with either your own insurance or the other driver’s insurance company. If your injuries are severe and your losses exceed the insurance policy’s limits, you may be able to pursue a personal injury case against a negligent motorist.
Special damages, often known as economic damages, pay a victim monetarily for out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident. The following are common examples of special damages:
- Expenses for motorcycle maintenance or replacement
- If your injuries keep you from working, you can collect for lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Items that are irreplaceable or valuable are lost
- Medical bills from the past and the future
Non-economic damages, often known as general damages, pay motorcycle accident victims for non-monetary losses incurred as a result of the motorcycle crash. These forms of damages are sometimes the most significant component of a personal injury claim or lawsuit. The following are some examples of general damages:
- Mental agony or emotional distress
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Physical handicap
- Quality of life deterioration
- Scarring or disfigurement
Iowa has few constraints on damages caps in personal injury cases—there are no caps on damage in motor vehicle accidents if you are not the more at-fault party. In most injury lawsuits, a jury decides how much in damages to award an injured plaintiff, and this is also a key subject of bargaining in injury settlement discussions.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics in Iowa
Iowa State University has created a database that tracks motor vehicle accidents in the state of Iowa. According to the Real-Time Analytics of Transportation Data published by the University from the Institute for Transportation, the majority of motorcycle accidents happen on Saturdays between the hours of 3 pm and 6 pm. The University has reported data from 2017 to current, and the findings show:
- There have been 4,749 total accidents in the last five years combined
- Almost ¼ of all motorcycle accidents from the five-year reported period occurred in 2021
- 1% of all accidents resulted in some type of injury
- 23% major injury
- 1% minor injury
- 3% of the accidents were fatal
- Roughly 50% of accidents involved a sole motorcycle, and the other 50% involved a motorcycle colliding with another vehicle
The number one contributing factor to nearly 50% of motorcycle accidents was “loss of control.” The main cause of motorcycle accidents when the other driver was found as fault was due to turning left and not looking for the motorbike
Contact Iowa Personal Injury Attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC
After a motorcycle accident, it is imperative that you speak with an Iowa personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The statute of limitation laws in Iowa are strict and offer little leeway.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the law firm of Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC today to discuss your case and obtain proper legal advice through a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Des Moines motorcycle accident lawyers. You can reach us online or by calling our phone number (515) 444-4000. Our offices are located in Des Moines, Iowa.