Iowa’s Minimum Insurance Liability Coverage Amounts
Iowa auto accident laws require drivers to buy liability insurance coverage. The minimum amounts of coverage are:
- $15,000 for property damage caused by the driver of the insured vehicle
- $20,000 for bodily injury or death caused by the driver of the insured vehicle
- $40,000 for total bodily injury or death liability caused by the driver of the insured vehicle
Liability coverage covers medical expenses, property damage, and other damages to third parties. The insurance company will pay damages up to the coverage limits. Some drivers buy policies with higher coverage limits. This shields them from personal liability for serious car accidents.
There are some other ways drivers can meet financial responsibility requirements. For example, under Iowa auto accident laws drivers can:
- Post a bond with the Iowa Department of Transportation;
- File an agreement to pay the other parties’ damages; or
- Show evidence of settlement of all damages.
Failing to Take Financial Responsibility Under Iowa Auto Accident Laws
Drivers must show financial responsibility under the Financial and Safety Responsibility Act. There may be consequences for those that cannot show financial responsibility. For example, the Iowa DOT could suspend your driver’s license. You could also receive a fine up to $1,000. Or law enforcement may inbound your vehicle.
Under Iowa law you will need to show proof of financial responsibility to get your license back. You do this through special insurance called SR-22. This form verifies that you have car insurance. Many insurance companies consider SR-22 to be high-risk. This could cause your insurance premiums to increase.
If you cause a car accident and do not have insurance, you may be personally liable for damages.
Reporting Requirements for Car Accidents in Iowa
Drivers involved in car accidents in Iowa must report an accident if:
- The accident causes death or personal injury, or
- Property damages of more than $1,500.
Drivers should contact the nearest law enforcement agency. If the accident is not investigated, report the accident using the Iowa Accident Report form. Drivers must report the accident within 72 hours. Failure to report the accident can result in suspension of driving privileges.
Recovering Damages in an Iowa Car Accident Case
There are several ways that car accident victims can recover damages. The first step is usually to report the car accident to your insurance company. Your insurance company will work with the other driver’s insurance to determine fault.
If the other driver is at-fault her insurance company will pay for damages. However, if you are at-fault, then you must turn to your own insurance company for compensation. For instance, you may have purchased collision coverage. Collision coverage will cover the costs of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
If the other driver is at-fault her insurance company will often try to settle. They will usually send you a written offer. This initial offer is often a lowball figure. Insurance companies attempt to limit their liability by getting you to settle fast.
You can also try to settle with the insurance company. One option is to send a formal demand letter. A demand letter details your damages and requests a specific amount to settle your case. You may be unsure what damages to request. An experienced Iowa car accident lawyer can help you determine what your case is worth.
Another option to recover damages is to file a lawsuit. Accident victims usually list the other driver and his insurance company as defendants. Some cases may also involve third-party defendants. There are two main reasons why car accident victims file a lawsuit. First, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to stop the statute of limitations from running. Even if you plan on settling, filing protects your right to go to trial. After filing, you can continue negotiating. If you reach a settlement, you can withdraw your lawsuit.
The second reason is that the insurance company is unwilling to offer more money to settle. Consequently, you can go to trial to attempt to get more compensation from a jury. In Iowa there is no cap on economic or non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those that are easy to document. For example, medical bills or lost wages. Non-economic damages are not easy to document. A common type of non-economic damages is pain and suffering. Since there is no cap on damages, a jury can award you any amount.
To recover damages at trial, you must prove that the other driver was negligent. This means that the other driver failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care. And his failure must have caused the accident. Remember that the other party must be more at-fault for the accident. If not, you cannot recover under Iowa auto accident laws.
Iowa Car Accident Settlement Calculator
Did you or someone that you know suffer an injury in a car accident in Iowa? Use our free online Injury Settlement Calculator to see what your case might be worth.