Iowa Auto Accident Laws and Resources
From Sioux City to Davenport and from Cedar Rapids to Cedar Falls, there are thousands of miles of roads to explore in the Hawkeye State. The roads of Iowa today are used by approximately two million drivers every year, with the average one traveling 10,000 miles annually. Whether you are in a rear end crash in Council Bluffs or hit and run in Des Moines, you should have information about car accident laws, statistics and related information in Iowa. This information is of great importance so that you know if you need to report an accident, and what to do in case you need to file a personal injury claim.
Statistics and Notable Car Accidents
As of October 2015, 245 people died in auto accidents in Iowa. That was an increase of 7% over 2014 in the same period. Below are more notable statistics about Iowa car accidents:
- There were more accidents in April 2015 than in April 2014. In 2015, 31 people died in Iowa car accidents in April; the number was 22 people in 2014.
- There also were more accidents in August 2015 than in August 2014: 50 and 36, respectively.
- But not all months in 2015 saw an increase. There were fewer auto accident deaths in Iowa in January, May, June and September that year than the same months in 2014.
When crash data from 2016 is reviewed, even more accidents have happened that year. At least 400 people died from car accidents on Iowa roads in 2016. This was a 27% hike from the year before and the highest number since 2008. According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, the increase in traffic deaths in 2016 was uniform throughout the year. There was not one bad month; all of them had a higher body count than other years since 2008.
Experts say the most likely cause of the increased fatalities was distracted driving, impaired driving and speeding. Deaths from DUI in Iowa accounted for approximately 30% of fatalities in 2016.
In Des Moines, the most populous city in the state, 329 people were killed in car accidents in 2017. This was a decrease from 2016 when 398 people died. According to the Iowa Safety Patrol, a new state law that has gotten tougher on texting and driving could be helping to reduce fatal collisions in the state. The law went into effect in July 2017. It allows the police to give a ticket to a driver they see texting while driving. With the old law, drivers could only be ticked if they had committed another traffic offense, such as speeding. It also is thought that a lack of snow in 2017 may have led to fewer fatal accidents.
One of the most publicized recent car accidents in Iowa was a fatal crash in Des Moines that killed two and injured two others. Police reported Oct. 21, 2017 that the crash happened when a driver attempted to pass another vehicle and had a head on collision with another vehicle. In most head on crashes, there is a high risk of death. These cases also often result in a wrongful death lawsuit being filed, given the gross negligence often involved in such accidents.
Iowa Negligence Laws
Iowa is a comparative negligence state. This means if you are partially responsible for your accident, you can be held responsible for your percentage of fault for the crash. For instance, if you are in an accident in Des Moines because the other driver made an illegal left turn, you might also be partially at fault because you had pulled too far into the intersection. In such a scenario, you may be found 25% negligent. This would reduce the amount of compensation you could receive in a personal injury settlement or verdict.
Also, you will be denied any compensation if your degree of negligence for an Iowa car accident was more than 50%. This is called the 51% rule.
Car Insurance Requirements in Iowa
You are required in the Hawkeye State to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. If you do not have enough insurance, you can receive fines, jail time and other penalties. Under the tort system in Iowa, you could be eligible in a car accident for actual damages, economic damages, and damages for your physical and emotional pain and suffering.
The minimum insurance you must carry in Iowa is:
- $20,000 for bodily injury per person per incident
- $40,000 for bodily injury for all persons in the accident
- $20,000 and $40,000 for uninsured and underinsured motorists
You can waive the uninsured and underinsured coverage in writing if you choose to do so.
Iowa operates differently than most states as it does not actually have a mandatory car insurance law. Rather, it has the Financial and Safety Responsibility Act. You may choose to provide evidence of financial responsibility or purchase the minimum level of insurance noted above. If you cannot prove either after you have been in an accident with $1000 or more in damages and/or personal injury, your driver’s license and car registration will be suspended. Also, if you do not show financial responsibility, you are liable for all expenses related to the accident.
Other Iowa Driving Laws
Below are some new laws to be aware of when you drive in Iowa:
- Iowa has placed a ban for all drivers on texting and bans the use of cell phones for new drivers.
- Effective in 2013, Iowa requires young drivers to carry an instructional license with them for a year before they apply for their intermediate license.
- Since 2013, all young drivers in Iowa cannot have more than one unrelated minor passenger in the vehicle for the first six months after he or she has an intermediate license.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Iowa
Iowa code section 614.1 establishes the statute of limitations that apply to most personal injury lawsuits that may arise from an auto accident. The law gives you two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. The same deadline is in effect for those who wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit related to a car accident. But the two-year clock begins to tick on the date of death of the victim.
Iowa Accident Resources
If you are in a car accident in Iowa, below are some helpful resources to get you headed in the right direction:
- Reporting a Car Accident in Iowa: A car accident that occurs in Iowa that causes personal injury, death or property damage of $1500 or more must be reported with an Iowa Accident Report. But this report is not required if the accident has been investigated by law enforcement. If you do not report such an accident within 72 hours, unless it was already investigated by law enforcement, your driving privileges could be suspended.
- Drivers who are in a car accident with injury or property damage must show their proof of financial responsibility to protect their driver’s license.
- If you have suffered car accident injuries, it is important to get a rough idea of what your claim could be worth. You can use our helpful online form at Lawsuit Info Center now to determine what your claim could be worth.