Unfortunately, car accidents happen all the time, even when they could have been prevented. They are an inevitable occurrence that can leave the victims with serious injuries and significant damage to their vehicles.
Although accidents cannot always be avoided, it’s possible to recover compensation from the driver responsible. However, in Iowa, there is a specific set of laws, specifically regarding comparative negligence, that you must factor into your case.
What are the General Negligence Laws in Iowa?
In order to have a successful personal injury claim in Iowa, it’s important to prove certain steps apply in your case. In general, these types of legal claims rely on the theory of negligence. The steps in a negligence case involving whether the at-fault party — in this case, the other driver — owed you a duty of care.
In car accident cases, all drivers owe other drivers, pedestrians, and passengers a duty of care to ensure that they operate their vehicles in a safe manner so nobody gets injured. If that duty of care is breached, the driver responsible for an accident is liable to compensate the victims for their medical expenses, damage to their property, lost wages, and further damages.
Elements of a Negligence Case
As previously stated, negligent cases involve several elements. These are necessary in order for the plaintiff to be successful, even if they are found partially responsible for the accident. They include the following:
Duty: The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
Breach of duty: The defendant breached their duty by failing to meet it
Cause in fact: The defendant failed to meet the duty of care
Proximate cause: The defendant’s failure directly caused the plaintiff to become injured
Damages: The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s actions
Comparative Negligence Laws
Iowa is a “Modified Comparative Fault” state, meaning each party is responsible for damages in proportion to the percentage of fault they caused unless the plaintiff's negligence reaches 51%. This means recovery is either prevented or limited depending on how percent much the driver was at fault for the accident.
Essentially, if you are involved in an accident but you are found to be partly at fault, the amount of compensation you are seeking is reduced by the percentage of your responsibility.
For example, if you get into a car accident in which you were driving slightly over the speed limit but the other driver ran a red light and struck you and you were injured and your car damaged, you could be found partially responsible for the accident. If you were seeking $10,000 in total damages and the court found that you were 10 percent to blame due to traveling over the speed limit, you would receive $9,000 in compensation instead of the full $10,000 you were seeking. This is comparative negligence.
What Should You Do?
Above all else, if you are involved in a car accident in Iowa, even if you know the crash was the fault of the other driver, you should seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
A West Des Moines personal injury attorney has the experience and full knowledge of the law so you can get the best possible compensation even in a case involving comparative negligence. Your attorney will thoroughly review all the evidence and negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for a settlement that is more than fair to cover your damages.
If you are located in Des Moines and need representation from a skilled personal injury attorney, contact the Hope Law Firm today at (515) 298-5056.