A large number of Iowa Car Accident Injuries occur to passengers, and they aren’t always sure what compensation they deserve. The driver of the vehicle they were riding in, another driver, or in some cases multiple drivers could be at fault. There are some special considerations in these cases that are different from your normal Iowa car accident cases.
Know Your Rights
Assuming that you were not negligent as a passenger (for example you did not cause the accident by grabbing the steering wheel) then you should be assessed no fault, unless you were not wearing a seatbelt, which can reduce your compensation.
Depending upon the nature and severity of your injuries there may not be enough car insurance available under the at-fault drivers policy to cover your injuries.
Iowa law only requires a minimum of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per car accident in insurance coverage. This means if the at-fault drive only has the minimum policy limits, which unfortunately is quite common, then you will need to look at other insurance policies to compensate you for your injuries if they are severe enough.
If your injuries only require a few doctors’ visits and are not permanent, then there may be enough insurance coverage. However, if you sustained more serious injuries such as broken bones, required surgery, etc. then you will want to look at every possible source to recover compensation.
Where To Recover Compensation
You were a passenger in the at fault driver’s car:
If the driver of the vehicle you were riding in is at fault and does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries, then you will want to look at your own car insurance policy.
Iowa law requires that insurance companies offer you UIM (underinsured motorist coverage), which protects you if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage.
Often our clients are worried about what will happen if they make a claim for UIM against their own insurance. Insurance rates are determined by claims made, credit score, driving record and other factors only known by insurance companies, but we have yet to have a client who made a UIM claim tell us that their rates were raised because they made a UIM claim.
There are hundreds of insurance companies to choose from and if your rate does go up you can shop around for a better rate. If you decide to not make a UIM case you could be costing yourself tens of thousands of dollars depending on the severity of your injuries and the amount of coverage you purchased.
Another vehicle is at fault:
If another driver was at fault then you would first look to the insurance for the at-fault driver. If the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance, you may have one or more insurance policies STILL available to provide you compensation.
If the vehicle you were riding in had insurance, then any UIM coverage available would be primary to compensate you if injuries exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits.
Also, if you have your own car insurance policy or are covered by another person then you may have another insurance policy to provide you with additional compensation under the UIM provisions.
Both drivers are at fault:
If both the driver of the car that you were riding in and the other drivers involved in the car accident are at fault then you may have claims under both driver’s liability policies.
If your injuries exceed all at-fault drivers available coverages, you can still be covered under a car insurance policy that you or a member of your household purchased. You may be able to seek additional compensation up to the policy limits of the UIM coverage under the secondary policy.
What Can Go Wrong
There are many potential pitfalls when dealing with serious injuries and UIM insurance coverage.
If you settle with the at-fault driver’s insurance company on your own and do not follow the proper procedures set forth in the UIM car insurance policy, you may not be able to receive additional compensation.
You need to know who is paying your medical bills and who is paying your health insurance company back. Failing to have this documented in writing can result in some or all of the money you receive being paid to medical providers and/or health insurance companies.
If you have been injured and your injuries exceed the policy limits of the at-fault driver(s), before you agree to any settlement you should at least talk to a qualified Iowa Car Accident Attorney. We have helped thousands of Iowans injured in car accidents, many of which had UIM claims.
If you have questions about your situation, feel free to call our office at 641-792-3595 for a no-cost, no-risk, confidential car accident injury consultation. We will take the time to listen to you and give you our advice concerning your car accident claim.
Free Book at No Cost
If you are not ready to speak with an attorney yet but would like to learn more about Iowa car accident laws including tips about how you can avoid making common costly mistakes request a copy of our Legal Insider’s Guide to Iowa Car Accidents which includes 7 Secrets to not wreck your case and much more.
Note: Even if you do not have your own car insurance, if you are a member of a household where someone else has car insurance then you may have UIM coverage available to compensate you for your injuries.
Also, please keep in mind that you do not need to be in a car to claim UIM coverage. If you are struck while riding your bicycle or as a pedestrian by an underinsured driver, then your UIM coverage should apply.
If you would like to learn more about underinsured motorist (UIM) and uninsured motorist insurance coverage (UM) then click here to request a copy of our Iowa Car Insurance book available to you at no cost.