How Much Compensation Can a Passenger in Car Accident Settlement Cases Get in Des Moines?
The facts of each auto accident in Iowa determine how much compensation the accident victims are likely to get in a personal injury claim.
If the drivers involved in a car accident each have insurance coverage to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and the like, it makes the process much easier.
However, regardless of how the accident occurred or whether the at-fault driver carries insurance coverage or not, getting a good car accident lawyer in their corner is the best thing victims can do.
In Iowa, there are many cases of injured passengers seeking compensation after an auto accident. Without legal representation from an experienced personal injury attorney, the chances of getting the compensation they deserve are slim.
Victims filing a claim after a car accident need to call Tom Fowler Law today and ask for a free case evaluation. Expert legal advice from a top-tier car accident attorney is just one call away!
Passengers in Car Accidents Need Lawyers Too!
When traveling on the road, it is the driver of the vehicle who carries the responsibility to keep all the passengers in the car and other road users safe at all times. It is not surprising, therefore, that when a car accident happens, much of the attention is on the driver of the vehicle.
In cases where the driver fails to show that they exercised due care and did all they could to prevent the accident from happening, the passenger can sue the driver and seek compensation. The same goes if the accident was caused by the negligence of the other driver.
A good car accident attorney will always advise a passenger in a car accident claim to sue three parties to have the best chance of walking away with a fair settlement amount. The defendants in these lawsuits are usually:
The driver of the vehicle the passenger was traveling in
Whoever was driving the other vehicle
The insurance companies
In some cases, a car accident lawyer may advise their client to pursue compensation from the manufacturer of either of the vehicles if it is suspected that mechanical faults may have been the cause of the car crash.
Another thing that a passenger in a car accident must be aware of is that there are certain cases in which they may be found to be at fault for the injuries they suffered.
Consider a situation whereby the passenger knowingly got into a car whose driver was intoxicated. Even though the fault for the accident lies on the shoulders of the drunk driver, the passenger may be held accountable for their decision to get into the car.
Whatever the case may be, a passenger in a vehicle accident claim needs a good lawyer to represent them. The combination of Iowa state laws and auto insurance coverage laws makes filing an insurance claim a very complicated process.
Without experienced Des Moines automobile accident attorneys representing them, victims not only risk losing the compensation they deserve but also being found to be partially at fault for the accident.
Iowa Is an At-fault State
Like many other states in the US, Iowa is an at-fault state, meaning someone has to be held responsible for vehicle accidents.
This is good news for the victims because it gives them the chance to seek compensation for any injuries resulting from the accident as well as financial losses that they may have encountered.
Modified Comparative Negligence in Des Moines, Iowa
However, as good as it is to be in an at-fault state when one is a victim, there is a catch-22 that passengers involved in a car accident need to be aware of.
Iowa uses a system of modified comparative negligence when handling personal injury claims. Under this system, both parties involved in the accident claim are held responsible for damages in proportion to their percentage of fault.
This means, even if the victim can prove liability on the part of the driver, insurance company, or vehicle manufacturer, the plaintiff's own negligence has to be considered. A good example is the one mentioned earlier, whereby the car accident victim knowingly got into a car whose driver is intoxicated.
In some cases, if the at-fault driver or their insurance company are particularly aggressive, the victims may be found to be 51% responsible (or more) for the accident, in which case they will walk away from the car accident claim without any compensation at all.
The issue of modified comparative negligence only highlights further the need to have a lawyer fighting for the rights of the victims and prove liability against the at-fault party, who may be the driver or their own car insurance company.
Average Settlement Amount in an Iowa Car Accident Claim
The compensation awarded to victims of car accidents in Iowa varies widely depending on various factors of each case, such as:
The cause of the car accident
The severity of the injuries sustained
The extent of pain and suffering
Impact of the economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage
The average settlement amount car accident victims can expect in Des Moines, Iowa is around $36,000. Most cases range from as high as $215,000 to as low as $6,100. However, there have been special cases in which the victims suffered injuries that were so horrific that a settlement amount of over $1,500,000 was awarded by the jury.
In terms of types of injuries, a head injury claim is most likely to result in a very high settlement amount, while the neck and back injuries are usually the lower end of the spectrum.
One of the most important duties of a personal injury attorney is to calculate the settlement amount that their client deserves after suffering injuries caused by a motor vehicle accident.
The larger part of the settlement amount is usually awarded for economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, while a smaller portion will go towards non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Cases dealing with several factors, such as lifetime disability that comes with future medical expenses will usually require the attorney to rely on expert opinions to prove that their client is owed a high settlement amount.
Factors Affecting Payouts to Car Accident Victims
When filing a claim for personal injury caused by a motor vehicle accident, there are many factors that a good lawyer has to understand and use to help their client win fair compensation.
The following are some of the most important considerations:
Modified Comparative Fault
All motor vehicle accidents in Iowa are judged using the modified comparative fault policy. If victims are found to be more than 51% at fault, they may end up walking away with nothing from the personal injury claim.
Auto Insurance Policy
The state of Iowa required all drivers to carry liability insurance that is no less than $40,000 per accident for bodily injury liability, $20,000 for each person, and $15,000 to cover property damages.
Severity of Injuries
Serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries will usually result in much higher settlements than minor injuries, such as cuts and bruises.
Number of Claimants
Consider a multi-victim accident whereby the at-fault driver had lots of passengers in their vehicle. Their insurance policy limits may not be enough to cover all the injured victims meaning each plaintiff may end up settling for a far less amount than they hoped for.
If the at-fault party has no insurance or only has personal auto insurance that covers the driver only, even if victims win their settlement case in court, there may be no source of funds to cover their compensation.
If the case is being heard in a court that has a history of awarding huge settlements for car accidents, the insurance adjuster may be inclined to offer a higher settlement than would be the case in other places.
The actions of the driver in the moments leading up to the accident may be judged by the jury to show “willful and wanton disregard for the rights or safety of another.” In such situations, punitive damages may be awarded by the court over and above the economic and non-economic damages.
What Must a Passenger in a Car Accident Do After the Collision?
After experiencing a car accident, it is normal for victims to feel disoriented and perhaps more likely to make wrong decisions. However, the steps taken by the victims can have a huge impact on the outcome of the personal injury claim.
In that regard, it is to the advantage of a passenger in car accident settlement claims to follow these steps from the day the accident occurs:
Seek Medical Attention
The safety of the victims of the car accident should be paramount at all times, which is why they need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if the injuries seem minor, or the victims claim to feel fine, they must be taken to a doctor because some severe injuries, such as head or internal injuries may be difficult to spot until it is too late.
Having physical evidence to support a claim is one of the biggest weapons an experienced personal injury attorney can use in court. Pictures of the accident scene, the damaged vehicles, and injured victims can go a long way in supporting a personal injury claim.
Beyond that, victims can also try to obtain witness statements and the contact information of any people who may have witnessed the accident.
Get Police and Medical Reports
Police and medical reports hold a lot of weight in court when it comes to determining who the at-fault party is, and the extent of the injuries the victims suffered.
Inform the Insurance Company
It is important to let the insurance companies of the drivers and the victim know about the accident and the victim's intention to sue. In some cases, the insurance company may be willing to offer fair compensation to the victims without the need to go to court.
Seek Legal Representation
When all the above steps have been taken, the victim needs to find an experienced personal injury attorney in Des Moines to take the case. Many reputable law firms, such as Tom Fowler Law, have a great track record of winning huge settlements for their clients.
Types of Compensation for a Passenger in a Car Accident Claim
Each car accident case is different depending on the cause of the accident, the location, the extent of the injuries, and other factors. As such, the compensation offered may also be different.
However, regardless of how much compensation is awarded to the victims, the settlement is usually meant to cover the following damages:
Damages for medical bills are awarded to cover all the expenses the victim had to shoulder as a direct result of injuries sustained in the car accident. These damages will cover medical treatment, hospitalization, rehabilitation, and physical therapy.
If the victims are injured in a car accident to such an extent that they are unable to return to work, they must be compensated for their lost income. The personal injury attorney will usually calculate this according to the victim's normal wages.
While property damage usually refers to the vehicles involved in a car accident, the victim may have been carrying some valuable items that got damaged in the car crash.
Other damages that need to be considered include pain and suffering, wrongful death, loss of companionship, and punitive damages. In the case of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, it is up to the judge to determine how much compensation will be awarded.
Tom Fowler Law Is Here for Victims Filing a Personal Injury Claim!
Proving who the at-fault party is in a car accident and fighting for fair compensation is not always an easy thing to do, especially in a state that uses modified comparative negligence, such as Iowa. Tom Fowler Law can also advise on right turn accident who's at fault.
Victims who wish to be compensated for the pain and suffering caused by the accident, as well as other damages will need a good lawyer on their side. Tom Fowler Law has many years of experience helping the residents of Des Moines to fight for their rights and receive fair compensation.