Questions We Are Asked Each Week By Clients...
We are often asked questions like how much should the insurance company pay? How are my weekly benefits calculated?, etc. So we have put together some of the questions we here the most and the answers to them. We hope this helps you avoid making a mistake in your Iowa personal injury, car accident, dog bite, work injury or other injury matter.
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What If I Have Been Injured in a Car Accident With a Drunk Driver?
Unfortunately, drunk drivers kill and injure more than 1,500 Iowans each year. These are different than your “normal” car accident because the other driver was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Often the other driver will be charged criminally, and you could be required to testify in court against him/her. There are other things to consider such as:
1. What if the drunk driver only has state policy minimums of $20,000 per crash?
2. Is there a way I can collect get more than just the policy limits of the drunk driver?
3. What are they and how do I get punitive damages against the drunk driver?
The above questions are just part of the conversation that we have with our clients who are facing these difficult issues. Unfortunately, often the drunk driver is not financially responsible and may have had drunk driving charges before. Often they will have the cheapest insurance that they can buy which will mean the state minimum in policy limits. If they are insured by a company such as Viking Insurance or The General among many other companies, this likely means they were on high-risk insurance and may have only $20,000 in personal injury coverage per crash.
What can you do if the drunk driver does not have enough insurance?
Well, there are really two different ways to go. First of all, hopefully, you have purchased $250,000 or more of what is called UIM (underinsured motorist coverage) which is the only coverage that protects you and your family financially from drivers with low policy limits. Secondly, you could sue the drunk driver, get a judgment and then try to collect upon the amount of the judgment above the policy limits. As a general rule, if the drunk driver is convicted of OWI in relation to your crash, they are not allowed to discharge a judgment related to the crash in bankruptcy. However, even with a judgment, it can be difficult to track down assets, garnish wages and ultimately collect on the money that you are owed.
These are just some of the legal issues when dealing with a drunk driver car crash. Even if you feel comfortable talking to the insurance adjusters on your own, you should consider at least consulting with a qualified Iowa car accident attorney. For example, you do not just want to accept the policy limits offer from the drunk driver’s insurance company without first providing information and requesting permission from your own insurance company first. Failing to do this properly can result in your insurance company taking the position that even though you have the coverage they do not owe you anything because they were “prejudiced”.
Also, you have to deal with the subrogation claims. These can be hospitals trying to get paid the full amount, your health insurance company, or even your own car insurance company if you used your medical payments portion of your car insurance.
You do not need an attorney for every case involving a drunk driver. For example, if your injuries were minor and you were fine within a few weeks, then you may be able to handle that case on your own. However, if you sustained more serious injuries such as broken bones, required surgery, extensive physical therapy, pain management treatment, have permanent scarring, etc. then it makes sense to have someone watching out for you to make sure that you are protected, don’t make a costly mistake and you get the compensation that you should receive.
Hiring a qualified Iowa car accident attorney leading you through the process will not only relieve your stress but also will likely result in more money for you. Once an experienced Iowa car accident attorney has the accident report, your medical records, and various other documentation, they should be able to give you a pretty good idea of what an average Iowa jury in the county where your case would be heard would do. Below is a list of some of the things that an Iowa injury attorney should do in your case:
1. Deal with the insurance adjusters on your behalf;
2. Investigate your case which including hiring a private investigator to track down and interview witnesses;
3. Obtain your medical records and bills from your doctors, physical therapist, hospitals, etc.
4. Talk to your doctors to make sure that all of your injuries caused by the car crash are properly documented and compensated
5. Have all contact with and deal with the subrogation claims that will come in your case in order to put the most amount of money in your pocket possible;
6. Send letters to and deal with any collection companies that your medical bills may have been sent to;
7. Explain the Iowa car accident legal process and help you decide which way is the best way to move forward with your case. For example, try to settle or just file suit;
8. Send you copies of letters, timely answer your phone calls and emails and give you updates about your;
9. And much, much more explained in our Iowa Car Accident book. We offer this book at no cost or risk to you because we have seen far too many Iowans injured in car accidents involving drunk drivers who made a costly mistake in their case before they had the right information.
Note: Before you even call an attorney to discuss your case, you should look at what past clients have said about them at www.Avvo.com and/or on Google. Also, you should be able to find or the attorney should be able to provide you with some of their past results on their webpage. We have compiled some videos of what our prior clients have to say about how we treated them. Click Here. To review some of our results in car accident cases Click Here.
If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys sooner, rather than later we will provide you with a car accident review at no cost or risk, just call 641-792-3595. We will give you our advice about whether you even need an attorney or not, answer your questions, and generally give you information about how the Iowa personal injury process works.
Not ready to talk to an attorney? This is perfectly normal which is why we offer our book "The Legal Insider's Guide to Iowa Car Accidents: 7 Secrets to Not Wreck Your Case" at no cost or risk to you. Our books explain what we have already discussed in more detail; gives you tips about how to find the best car accident attorney for you; explains what damages may be available to you in your case (for example pain and suffering, loss of full mind, and body, loss of consortium, etc.); and much, much more.
Finally, you can now learn about car accidents in the comfort of your own home so request your copy of our Iowa Car Accident book now.
Do I Still Have A Car Accident Injury Case If I Wasn’t Wearing A Seatbelt?
The short answer is yes, you still have a case. However, Iowa law requires all front-seat occupants wear a seat belt and anyone under the age of 18 (who is not in a car seat) to wear a seat belt in both the front and back of a vehicle. Iowa has a system which is called comparative fault. In 2018, the Iowa legislature passed a new law (Iowa Code Section 321.445) increasing the percentage of fault you can be found from 5% to 25% for failing to wear a seat belt when required to do so by law.
Why is this important?
Because for every percentage of fault you are found by a judge or jury, your damages are reduced accordingly. For example, if you are the driver or front-seat passenger who is not wearing a seat belt during a car crash caused by someone else and your total damages are $100,000. If you are found to be 25% at fault, then you are only allowed to recover $75,000 because your damages were reduced by 25% (100,000 X 25% = 25,000).
Insurance companies will also argue that you can be found comparatively at fault for failing to wear a seat belt in the back seat even though it is not illegal. While there is no conclusive case on this issue, district courts have gone both ways.
Sometimes, the judge will require the defendants and their insurance company to submit medical evidence in court which usually consists of a doctor or other expert testifying about how your injuries would have been less severe if you were wearing a seat belt. There are several studies that these experts can cite to support their position. Also, if the jury knows that you were not wearing your seat belt they may be more critical of you and provide you less compensation overall in addition to finding you partially at fault. It is normal for jurors to think using what we call attribution bias. This means that jurors do not want to imagine that they could be injured like you were in a car crash, so they will try to find fault in what you did to cause your injuries. For example, I always wear my seat belt and because he/she did not wear a seat belt he/she was injured or my friend was in a terrible car accident caused by a drunk driver, but he was wearing his seat belt and not injured or my son was rear-ended in a car accident and thankfully he was not injured because he was wearing his seat belt. There are many other examples of this, but you can see how a juror may try to place blame on the injured party in order to avoid painful thoughts that they or a loved one could be injured in a car accident.
Good Reasons To Always Wear A Seatbelt
1. Statistics show that wearing a seat belt should prevent you from being ejected in a car crash which is among the leading causes of death;
2. Scientific data shows that overall injuries are less severe in a car crash when a person is wearing a seat belt;
3. Your damages may be reduced because of your fault for not wearing a seat belt;
4. If you are over 18 and riding in the front seat you will end up with a ticket and fine to pay.
There can be several extenuating circumstances that impact accident fault. It may require seeking legal counsel. A Des Moines personal injury attorney at Walker, Billingsley & Bair can handle these types of traffic cases and can help determine who is at fault in a car accident.
What Happens to My Case If The Courts Are Closed?
If you have a Civil Jury Trial? On April 2, 2020, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an order stating that all civil jury trials set before August 3, 2020 will need to be continued.
If you have a Workers' Compensation Trial/Hearing? Presently, the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner has ordered that all cases set for trial/hearing before June 16, 2020 shall be done through CourtCall which is a system similar to Zoom. It allows all parties, their attorneys, the judge/deputy, the court reporter and witnesses to all appear on their computers. Since the order came down, we have had a hearing through CourtCall and found that is worked pretty well. The alternative is that one or both parties can file a motion to continue the hearing in order to have an in person hearing by the end of the year which may or may not be granted.
There are other rules for FED's forcible entry and detainers, bench trials, etc. that you can find at https://www.iowacourts.gov/newsroom/news-releases/.
How our firm can help you during the Covid-19 epidemic
*NOTICE - EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY*
Walker, Billingsley & Bair takes the safety of our clients and staff very seriously. Given the recent developments with the COVID-19 health crisis and directives from our state and national governments we are implementing the following policies:
1) All appointments will be conducted by phone. For tax appointments, clients should drop off their 2019 tax documents ahead of their scheduled appointment. We will call at the scheduled time. If you do not want to have a phone appointment and would prefer to just drop off your documents, you may do that, and the tax return will be prepared as soon as possible.
2) Signing of wills and other estate planning documents will be rescheduled after April 13.
3) Our Newton office has a drop slot at the front of the building to drop paperwork off. If the documents will not fit through the drop slot, please call the office and we will make arrangements to have someone meet you at the door to accept the documents. In our other offices, please contact the office prior to coming or when you are outside so that someone will be available to accept the paperwork.
4) Our lobby doors will be locked during business hours, but our staff and Attorneys will still be working and available to speak with you by phone or email.
How is fault determined in a Car Accident?
Generally, under Iowa law, we look at what is called fault or also known as negligence. Iowa has what is called comparative fault which means the fault of the parties involved in the accident are compared against each other. For example, if someone strikes you from behind while you are waiting at a red light, waiting for traffic, etc., then chances are that the other driver is 100% at fault. However, if you are driving down the road and another driver pulls out in front of you while you are speeding and/or looking at your cell phone, then you may be found 10%, 20% or more at fault for the car accident. The percentage of fault reduces your compensation by the percentage. So if your damages are $100 and you are found to be 20% at fault, then you will only receive 80% or in this case $80 of your $100 in damages.
The determination of fault is based upon what are called the Rules of the Road. In Iowa, these rules based upon the laws passed over the years by our legislature. These Rules of the Road include speed limits, duty to yield, following traffic devices, the requirement to wear a seatbelt, etc. We will discuss some very specific and common causes of Iowa car accidents and how fault is determined.
There is a rule of the road that requires you to maintain control of your vehicle in order to not strike other vehicles on the roads. If you are legally stopped waiting for a traffic light, stopped at a stop sign or otherwise following the law when you are struck from behind there is a good chance that the other driver will be found 100% at fault.
Failure to Obey Stop Signs or Traffic Lights
In our busy world where everyone seems to be in a rush at all times, people try to push the limits by running red lights and ignoring stop signs. Also, sometimes people are just not paying attention to the fact that they have an upcoming red light or stop sign. If the other party causes the car accident by failing to obey a traffic device then there is a good chance that they will be considered 100% at fault.
Failure to Yield in a Roadway
This is another common violation of the rules of the road. This most commonly happens when someone pulls directly into the path of a vehicle driving down the road. There will be a number of factors in determining fault including the presence of a stop sign, traffic light, or other signage; the speed of the vehicles; road conditions; use of electronic devices by the parties, etc.
Failure to Yield at Uncontrolled Intersection
The general rule is that you have to yield to the driver to your right. So, if you end up being struck by another vehicle in an uncontrolled intersection where the driver came from will be very important.
Failure to Use a Seatbelt
On March 25, 2018, Governor Reynolds signed a Republican-backed law which now reduces compensation to injured Iowans for not wearing a seatbelt when required. You can now be assessed up to 25% fault for not wearing a seatbelt even if the other is drunk and clearly at fault. Whether you agree that people who are seriously injured through no fault of their own should have their damages reduced by up to 25% or not, the best advice is to always wear your seatbelt.
Hit as a Pedestrian in Crosswalk
There are very specific legal requirements when it comes to the rights and duties of pedestrians. Generally, if you are a pedestrian who is struck in a crosswalk which is defined as either "Any portion of a road distinctly marked for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface; or the portion of the road connecting the sidewalks on either side of the intersection." While as a pedestrian you may rely upon the approaching driver's duty to yield, you still must exercise ordinary care including whenever possible walking on the right half of the crosswalk.
Hit as a Pedestrian in Other areas
If a pedestrian is crossing a road in an area other than what is defined as a crosswalk then the pedestrian has the duty to yield the right of way to all vehicles on the road. Further, if there is a marked crosswalk where the pedestrian is crossing the road they are required to walk within it. Also, if a pedestrian is walking along the side of a roadway, they are required to walk on or along the left side of the roadway as a violation of this law is negligence.
As a general rule, the rights and duties of bicycles are the same as other motor vehicles. There are unique features of crashes involving cars and bicycles. Often these occur when a car is trying to pass a bicycle and either does not see the bicycle or drives to close to the rider. One of the laws for nighttime riding is the requirement to have a white light on the front of the bicycle visible at least 300 feet and a red light on the rear of the bicycle visible at least 300 feet.
Similar to other motor vehicles and bicycles, motorcycles are required to follow the same rules of the road as others. There are unique factors involved in motorcycle accident cases which we have dealt with for more than 20 years. These can include the experience of the rider, the maneuverability of the specific motorcycle, if the rider properly applied the brakes in order to avoid the crash, possible fault assigned to the rider for not wearing a helmet, etc.
There are literally hundreds of different ways that vehicle accidents occur in Iowa each and every year. If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident in Iowa, then feel free to give us a call so we can discuss how we may be able to help you. There is no cost, risk or obligation, just call (641) 792-3595.
If you are not ready to call an attorney or would just like additional information about Iowa car accidents, then you should request a copy of our new car accident book called “The Legal Insider’s Guide to Iowa Car Accidents- 7 Secrets to Not Wreck Your Case." To order your copy go to http://www.IowaCarAccidentBook.com or Call Now 1-800-707-2552 (ext. 710) (24 Hour Recorded Message). We offer our Iowa car accident book at no cost because we have seen too many hard-working Iowans hurt in car accidents who made mistakes which cost them thousands of dollars. Iowans hurt in car accidents are beginning to realize that the insurance company for the other driver is not there to help them and that they should learn about Iowa's car accident laws. Finally, there is a book about car accidents in Iowa that you can review in the comfort of your own home with no pressure. For immediate assistance call (641) 792-3595.
Who is at Fault in a Left Turn Car Accident?
Left turn car accidents can be some of the most serious car crashes that we see. Often the force of the impact is localized to the passenger side of the car where hopefully someone is not sitting. Other times, the force of the impact will send the turning vehicle skidding and sometimes flipping. There are many factors to determine who is a fault for a left turn car accident sometimes called Rules of the Road. The determination of fault is also referred to as determining who is liable for the collision or a liability determination.
The first thing would be what if any traffic controls were in the area. If you are waiting to turn left across traffic and have a green arrow, then it is most likely the other driver's fault. However, if you have a blinking yellow or red light when you turn, you may be found at fault. One of the most difficult fault determinations to make is when a driver is in the middle of the intersection getting ready to turn left when the light begins to change from green, to yellow and then to red. The other driver is approaching and goes through the light. The other driver may have ran the red light, but things happen quickly and if you pulled into the other driver's path then you may be at fault. In some areas in Iowa, we have traffic cameras to capture exactly what happened, but the vast majority of intersections do not have traffic cameras.
A more common left turn car accident is from a stop sign. A driver looks and thinks there is no traffic coming, but in fact, there is a vehicle approaching. Look before you leap is a term we have all heard before, but when it comes to making a left turn into traffic this is especially true. It is best to look in both directions twice to make sure no one is coming. It goes without saying, but talking on your cell phone or trying to send a text while making a left-hand turn is a bad idea. Driver distraction is the number one reason we have car accidents, to begin with. You don't want to place the safety of yourself or your passengers behind a call or text that could wait until you get home. No call or text with worth the costly price you and your family could pay if involved in a car crash.
Failing to Yield
When you are making a left hand turn across traffic, you have the duty to yield to oncoming traffic. If you pull out in front of a vehicle that then strikes you, you are likely to be found at fault. However, if the other vehicle was speeding then they may also be found at fault for the crash. Under Iowa law, you have the right to assume that other drivers are following the traffic laws around you. This means if the driver is going 100 mph in a 55 mph zone when you turn in front of his vehicle, then the speeding driver maybe 100% at fault for the collision.
If there are no traffic signals then the general rule is that you must yield to your right. Also, also discussed above there are rules to yield to oncoming traffic as well. So if a vehicle is coming from your right and you turn left in front of the vehicle then you may be at fault for the collision. As discussed above there can be other factors such as the speed of the other vehicle which will be considered in determining fault.
Because determining fault can be difficult sometimes, Iowa has what is called a comparative fault. Not surprisingly, this means that the fault of the parties is compared. In order to make any recovery, you have to prove that the other driver was 50% or more at fault. Whatever the percentage of fault that is assigned to you will reduce your recovery by that amount. For example, let's say you were turning left and it is disputed whether the other driver ran the red light or you turned in front of him just prior to impact. If a judge or jury found that you were 30% at fault and provided you with a verdict of $100,000 for your injuries, then you would only be allowed to collect $70,000 because you were 30% at fault.
Where to go from Here?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a left-turn car accident then just because the police may have found you or the other driver at fault does not mean that the police are always right. You should consider speaking with a qualified Iowa car accident attorney to determine if your case is worth investigating and pursuing. Our office handles these types of cases on a contingency fee basis which means there is no upfront cost and no risk to you. We are only paid if we are successful in making a recovery and then it is a percentage of the recovery depending upon if the case settles or if litigation is required. If we are not successful, then you owe us nothing, not even the costs or time we spend on the case. So there is no risk to you.
Maybe you are not ready to speak with an attorney yet which is just fine. Then you should at least request a copy of our Iowa Car Accident book entitled "The Legal Insider's Guide to Iowa Car Accidents" which exposes 10 myths about Car accident claims, 5 things to know before hiring an attorney and much, much more. We offer our book at no cost because during the past 20 plus years we have seen far too many Iowa make costly avoidable mistakes. Now you can read about Iowa car accident laws, determine if you even need an attorney or not and educate yourself all in the comfort of your own home with no pressure. Request your copy today at www.IowaCarCrash.com. If you would like immediate assistance or to schedule your no cost Iowa car accident review Call Now (641) 792-3595.
What to do if You Suffer Whiplash from an Accident?
The medical term for what is commonly known as "whiplash" is called a "cervical strain". The cervical part of your body is your neck and strain basically means that the muscles and/or tendons have been injured. Sometimes these injuries are so severe that the muscles and tendons will actually tear. However, this tearing will not show up on an x-ray or physical examination performed by a medical provider. Sometimes whiplash injuries to the neck can have long-term and devastating effects. They can cause a permanent loss in the range of motion in the neck which will limit how far you can turn your neck to the sides and up and down, they can cause debilitating neck pain and stiffness which can lead to headaches and in some severe cases, loss of use of your hands, arms and legs. Whiplash injuries may seem minor at first but can result in a lifetime full of medical problems.
Whiplash injuries can occur in several different ways including car accidents, work injuries, falls and other personal injury accidents. A percentage of whiplash injuries will heal within a few weeks or months following an accident, but it is very important that you seek medical care immediately. Failing to seek medical care will not only result in your condition not being properly treated but can also have a negative impact on a personal injury claim that you may bring later on. If you wait days or weeks before seeking medical care and attention after an accident, the value of your claim can go down because you waited. Therefore, it is always best to be treated right away following an injury from an accident.
How to Treat Whiplash
Treatment for whiplash injuries can include physical therapy, chiropractic care, prescription and over the counter medications, injections, radiofrequency denervations or ablations, facet blocks, nerve blocks, ice, heat, stretching, massage, etc. Our experience is that the quicker that you are treated for whiplash, the better off you will be and the chances of you having a permanent injury are decreased.
Along the same lines, if you are treating for whiplash it is important that you attend your medical appointments as scheduled. If you "no-show" or miss appointments this will not only increase your healing time but once again will make you look bad. If you do have to change an appointment, you should try to call the day before or at least a few hours before in order to reschedule. Another issue is what is called gaps in treatment. If you go to your doctor who prescribes physical therapy, but you don't start physical therapy to treat your whiplash for several weeks, then this can damage your case. The insurance adjuster, judge or eventually a jury may think if he/she was hurting so bad why did they take so long before starting therapy?
This same issue also applies to situations where your medical provider says I don't have anything else to offer you for your whiplash injury. If you are still having problems and issues at that time the doctor releases you, then you should seek additional medical care. This can be a referral to pain management, a psychiatrist, a chiropractor, more physical therapy, etc. However, keep in mind that there are some doctors who will not be able to treat your whiplash and may say there is "no objective" evidence of injury and will basically accuse you of faking your injury. This is why it is important to talk to a qualified personal injury attorney before just going to any doctor for your whiplash condition. An experienced injury attorney can help guide you away from some doctors (often time neurologists will have nothing to offer you, but may cause severe damage to your case) and towards other doctors who they have seen firsthand provide help to their clients. Often times your family doctor will not think of or know about specialists such as physiatrists (also known as physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors) whose job is to treat and deal with chronic pain sometimes caused by whiplash injuries. Even within specialists who treat whiplash injuries, there are some doctors who are more likely to say what the insurance company wants them to say instead of the truth about you and your injuries. It is critical not only to your treatment but to your case that you avoid insurance company doctors. We can help you with this in your Iowa injury matter.
Who Should I Contact After an Injury?
We offer Iowans who have sustained whiplash injuries a detailed book which covers injuries caused by car accidents, work injuries and other personal injury matters. Our book is available to you at no cost or obligation and reveals 8 Common Mistakes Made in Iowa personal injury cases. Our book not only tells you how you can avoid common mistakes but gives you advice when it comes to dealing with your medical providers, seeking medical care, etc. We will also tell you whether or not we think you need an attorney in your case. That is correct. You may not even need an attorney because in some cases frankly, the attorney will take a percentage of what you probably can get on your own. However, if your whiplash injury is serious and does not get better within a few weeks you should consider finding the best personal injury attorney for you and your case. Not all Iowa injury attorneys are the same and it can be difficult for you to distinguish between those with real experience and those who are just advertising that they are experienced. Our book covers what you should look for and how to find the best attorney for you and your personal injury case.
Who is at Fault in a Sideswipe Car Accident?
People have different names for what is commonly called a sideswipe car accident. Generally, a sideswipe means that two or more motor vehicles are traveling in the same direction and one vehicle strikes another one. Often the accidents occur when one vehicle enters the other vehicle's lane or both drivers attempt to merge into the same lane.
Often these collisions occur at highway speed on interstates with 2 or more lanes of travel. Sideswipe car accidents can be minor with property damage only or devastating if the impact is severe enough and/or one of the drivers loses control of their vehicle. Losing control of a vehicle at highway speed is a very scary situation. The vehicle can go into the ditch and may even roll. Roll-over car crashes cause more deaths and serious injuries than almost any other type of wreck. Wearing your seat-belt is very important if you are involved in a roll-over because without it your head may strike the roof causing a devastating spinal cord injury or you may be ejected from the vehicle.
How can sideswipe car accidents be prevented?
1. We have probably all started to merge into the next lane and suddenly realized that there was another vehicle in the lane. One of the best ways to prevent a sideswipe is to check your mirrors and also look over your shoulder to check your blind spot.
2. If you are driving faster than other vehicles it is always a good idea to pass them in the left-hand fast lane. In many states, it is actually illegal to pass on the right because of the safety concerns it creates. Therefore, if you pull up behind a slower moving vehicle give them a little time to hopefully see you behind them and pull over into the right hand slower lane. Passing a vehicle on the right can be unexpected and result in a serious collision. Here in Iowa, our rules of the road in Iowa Code Section 321.299 and the uniform jury instruction states:
600.14 Overtaking A Vehicle. The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle going in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance, and shall not drive to the right side of the road until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. A violation of this law is negligence.
That is right, you could be found at fault for passing another vehicle on the right even if they sideswipe you. There is an exception to the above law for multi-lane highways such as Interstate 80, but it is still a good idea to always try to pass on the left first.
3. Many newer cars and trucks have lane change warning systems. They use radar systems to detect vehicles that are in your path on either side of you. Most systems give you a warning light on your mirror so you know there is a vehicle next to you. Some vehicles provide you with an audible warning sounds if you turn on your turn signal and move towards the vehicle. This technology has prevented hundreds if not thousands of serious car accident from happening and has probably also saved many lives.
Who is at fault in a sideswipe car accident? This is a tricky question that usually will involve eye witness testimony from drivers behind the collision to describe what they saw and heard. Further, under Iowa law, we have what is called comparative fault which basically means the judge or jury will determine the percentage of fault for each driver involved. In order to recover any damages, you have to prove the other driver was at least 50% at fault. Failing to prove this will result in you receiving no compensation. Likewise, if you are found to be 20% at fault then the amount of damages you are able to recover are reduced by your percentage of fault which in this example would be 20%. So if your damages were found to be $10,000, then it would only be ordered that you are owed $8,000.
Iowa Code Section 321.306 and the uniform jury instruction state the following:
600.23 Roads Laned For Traffic. Whenever any road has been divided into three or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, the following rules in addition to all other consistent rules shall apply:
1. A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as possible entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until the driver has seen that the movement can be made with safety.
2. On a road which is divided into three lanes, a vehicle shall be driven in the center lane only when overtaking and passing another vehicle where the road is clearly visible and the center lane is clear of traffic within a safe distance, or in preparation for a left turn, or where the center lane is assigned exclusively to traffic moving in the direction the vehicle is going and is signed accordingly.
3. Official signs may be posted directing slow-moving traffic to use a designated lane, or assigning specific lanes to traffic moving in the same direction. Drivers of vehicles shall obey the directions of the sign.
A violation of this law is negligence.
So basically a driver shall not drive his/her vehicle into another lane until it is safe to do so. The determination of who was at fault, and what percentage of fault they are, will come back to the testimony of the car drivers and the witnesses who saw the crash. If you or a loved one have been in a sideswipe car accident causing injuries then it is important that you have someone on your side looking out for your best interests. Some people think that their own insurance company will help prove that the other driver is at fault. While your insurance company may make their own determination of fault, they will only pursue the money that they have paid on your own automobile insurance policy. They will not pursue your medical bills, lost wages, loss of quality of life, pain and suffering or other damages you have sustained.
We offer Iowans injured in a car accident a no-cost Car Accident Evaluation at (641) 792-3595. We will even give you our opinion if you even need an attorney or not and if the case is worth pursuing or not. If you prefer not to talk to a car accident attorney now, but want to learn about your rights first then request our book at www.IowaCarCrash.com. Our book gives you tips about how to find the best Iowa car accident and personal injury attorney for your case, exposes 7 Secretes to Not Wreck Your Iowa Car Accident case and much more.
How Are My Lost Wages Paid After a Car Accident?
Under Iowa law, if you or a loved one are involved in a car accident causing injuries that require you to be off work, then you will need to use your sick pay, short-term disability, accident and sickness, vacation time, AFLAC or some other form of disability pay. The insurance company for the other driver will not pay your lost wages as you incur them. They will only pay your lost wages as part of a total settlement of your case including medical bills, lost wages, loss of quality of life, pain, and suffering, etc. If you are still off work because of a car accident, it is way too early to be talking settlement with the insurance company. You need to wait and see how your medical treatment goes and if you make a full recovery or not before even considering a settlement offer.
It is important that you if you do not know if your employer has any such coverage that you contact the HR (human resources) department. If you do have short-term disability or another coverage that will provide you with benefits while you are not able to work, then you will be required to complete paperwork and your doctor will also have to fill out paperwork showing your disability. It is important that you complete this paperwork in a timely fashion because the longer you wait, the longer it will take before you start receiving checks for your time off work.
Also, you may have disability coverage on your mortgage, car or other loans. This can make your payments while you are disabled and not able to work. You should check with your bank or lender to find out if you purchased this type of coverage.
What if the above doesn't work?
If you, unfortunately, do not have any of the above available to you, then you may have to look for help from your family, friends, church, etc. If you were injured in a state that has PIP (personal injury protection) such as Minnesota then you may be able to recover your lost wages immediately under your own car insurance policy for no-fault insurance. For more information about Iowa car accidents, you should request of book that reveals 7 Secrets to Not Wreck Your Claim.
Who Should Pay my Medical Bills after my Car Accident?
This is one of the most common questions we get and there is a lot of misinformation out there so listen up. First of all, the insurance adjuster for the other driver may tell you "send me all your medical bills". Yet, that does not mean they will actually pay your medical bills as you send them. You can try asking the insurance adjuster for something in writing that they will pay your medical bills. Although, chances are that the only way they will pay anything is if you agree to sign a release and close your claim forever. The insurance company would rather have your medical bills pile-up, have you sent to collection, have you start receiving nasty collection calls making threats against you such as garnishing your wages, etc.
Why would the insurance company want to do this? Because it puts pressure on you to settle your case for less than fair value. They want you to be so stressed out that you will take whatever they want to pay you so the medical bills will be paid and the collections calls will end. Well, there is some good news, you should not play by the rules set by the insurance company and instead should know the truth.
The truth is that rarely will the other driver's insurance company pay for your medical bills as they are incurred. So, the best source to pay your car accident related medical bills are:
1. Your health insurance that you have through your employer or that you obtained on your own.
You should make sure that the hospital and other medical providers have the information they need to submit the bills to your health insurance. They may say "we cannot do this because there is a third party responsible". This is hogwash. If you have health insurance then they are required to pay your medical bills regardless if it is a car accident or not;
2. Your medical payments under your own automobile insurance policy.
If there is insurance on the vehicle you were in at the time of the crash and/or if you have car insurance on your own, then chances are good that there is some medical payments coverage available. The amount can vary from $1,000 up to $100,000 in medical payments coverage. It is usually best to use your medical payments coverage to cover your co-pays and deductibles. But why should my insurance pay for this and won't this increase my insurance premiums? Well, this is coverage that you bought to protect yourself and if you are not at fault for the accident then it should not affect your insurance premiums. As stated above, the other driver's insurance is highly unlikely to pay for any of your medical bills, unless you sign a release letting them off the hook forever;
3. If You Don't Have Health Insurance
If you don't have health insurance and don't have any or enough medical payments coverage then you could contact the medical provider to see if they are willing to write-off all or part of the balance given your financial situation. Many hospitals are not-for-profit which requires them to write-off a portion of their medical bills each year to maintain the benefits they receive for being non-profit; and
4. None of the Above Work
Then you could seek assistance from a local church, charity, family or friends. Chances are if you are in this situation then your medical bills may be one of your last concerns as you are probably having problems paying for your other bills.
There are other potential ways of paying your medical bills that a qualified Iowa personal injury attorney may be able to help you with. If you would like more information about medical bills in car accident cases here in Iowa then request a copy of our book that we offer at no cost or risk to you. Our book also reveals 7 Secrets to Not Wreck Your Claim.
If you need immediate assistance or have more questions feel free to call our office at (641) 792-3595 and ask to speak with one of our car accident attorneys.