Des Moines Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyers
When the motorist who causes a car accident flees the scene, it is considered a hit-and-run. According to Iowa law, anyone involved in an accident must stop and remain at the site until the proper exchange of information can take place and the circumstances can be assessed. Unfortunately, some drivers fail to do this because they are impaired by drugs or alcohol or run scared for various other reasons.
These reckless and traumatic situations occur more frequently than you might think, and many people are injured in them each year. Experiencing any type of auto accident is upsetting, but being the victim of a hit-and-run can leave you feeling abandoned and especially vulnerable.
Even if the negligent driver cannot be located, there are still options for seeking compensation for your injuries and expenses. LaMarca Law Group, P.C. has over 25 years of experience working with Des Moines clients, and our hit-and-run accident attorneys will guide you through this process and be your advocate when you feel alone. Just give us a call at (515) 225-2600 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation today.
Why You Need a Hit-and-run Accident Lawyer
Pursuing fair compensation for your injuries from a hit-and-run accident requires skilled negotiation with an insurance company. This can be the hit-and-run driver’s carrier or through your own coverage, but you don’t need to attempt this yourself. While you focus on recovering, one of our Des Moines hit-and-run accident lawyers can help you in these ways:
- Compiling the evidence: Evidence can be gathered, regardless of whether the at-fault driver is can be located or not. This can include getting photos or video from the accident site, statements from witnesses, and medical reports from your injuries.
- Administering the insurance claim: It is a tedious process to prepare the necessary court filings, respond to legal motions, and correspond with the insurance company. Our legal team is well-practiced to ensure all tasks are expertly completed.
- Potentially proving liability: In cases where the negligent driver is identified, we know how to find the evidence and reconstruct the scene of the accident to substantiate that this person was at fault.
- Getting all the compensation you deserve: A skilled attorney knows every type of compensation you are eligible for and how much your claim is worth. Let us negotiate with the insurance company to keep them from delaying or denying your claim and secure the settlement you are entitled to.
How Hit-and-run Accident Claims Are Handled in Iowa
If the at-fault driver is not located, you will need to file a hit-and-run claim with your insurance company, provided that your policy includes one of the following types of coverages:
- Uninsured motorist: This coverage handles medical expenses for accidents that occur with a driver who doesn’t have insurance or cannot be identified because they left the scene.
- Collision: This pays for the damage done to your vehicle, no matter who is at fault.
- Medical payments: This is coverage for the cost of medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault.
Sometimes the police will be able to find the hit-and-run driver, and then you can file a claim with that person’s insurance if they have a policy.
Understanding Iowa Law for Hit-and-run Accidents
The motor vehicle law that prohibits leaving the scene of an accident is Iowa Code 321.262. It states that drivers who are involved in accidents that cause property damage, injury, or death are obligated to stay at the site of the incident until they have provided the following information to the other parties involved:
- Name and address
- Vehicle registration number
- Driver’s license number
They are also required to offer assistance to injured victims by arranging for transportation for medical assistance if the need is apparent or the victim requests it.
Even if a driver hits an unattended vehicle or anything considered stationary property, such as a fence, it is expected that they will attempt to contact the property owner to inform them. Leaving a note that contains contact information in a secure and visible place is considered sufficient notification.
When a driver never stops at the scene of a collision or flees before providing the required information, it is a crime. In Iowa, the penalties for leaving the scene are set according to the type of harm that was caused:
- Property damage – When nobody is injured, and the only damage was to property, it is considered a simple misdemeanor crime. A conviction can result in up to $625 in fines and up to 30 days in jail.
- Personal injury – When someone is injured in the accident, it is considered a serious misdemeanor. The penalty is $350-$1,875 fine and up to 12 months of jail time.
- Death – When the accident caused or contributed to someone’s death, then it can be charged as a Class D felony crime. A conviction can lead to a punishment of five years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500.
Other consequences for these convictions can include increased insurance premiums and the risk of a driver’s license suspension.
Steps to Take After a Hit-and-run Accident
If you have been injured in a Des Moines accident caused by a hit-and-run driver, the more information you have from the scene, the more evidence there will be for your claim. A collision is an upsetting experience, but provided you are physically and emotionally able to do so, it is best to take the following actions:
- Get the license plate number or at least the color, make, and model of the vehicle.
- Don’t leave the scene to go after the other driver. Getting involved in a chase can cause more problems.
- Tend to your injuries. Request urgent medical attention if necessary or take yourself to a hospital as soon as possible following the accident, even if you don’t think your injuries are serious. It’s best to be evaluated by a medical professional, in case there are injuries that may not be immediately obvious.
- Notify the police. If a patrol car is readily available, they may be able to apprehend the fleeing driving driver or at least come to the scene and get the information for their report directly from you. In some cases, the hit-and-run driver will cause similar accidents within a short time period, and you want to be sure the police are aware of your situation too.
- Document the scene of the accident. It is very helpful to have notes about the accident location, what time it happened, photos of your injuries and damage to your vehicle, and contact information for any eyewitnesses.
- Report the accident to your insurance company. If the hit-and-run driver is never located, your injury claim will be handled through your own insurance coverage, and they will need knowledge of the accident.
- Get legal help. A knowledgeable lawyer can explain your legal rights and handle your insurance claim for you.
We Have Answers to Your Hit-and-Run Accident Questions
It is unsettling when the collision you’re involved in is a hit-and-run situation. You may not be familiar with what type of legal recourse is available in this scenario. We are providing answers to a few commonly asked questions, but if you call us today at (515) 225-2600 and schedule a free consultation, we would be happy to address all of your concerns and inquiries.
How much compensation can I receive for a hit-and-run accident claim?
Compensation awards vary according to the severity of your injuries and reflect the direct expenses you’ve incurred, as well as indirect costs, and emotional suffering. Specifically, these can include medical bills, property loss, lost earnings, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. Once LaMarca Law Group, P.C. has the opportunity to examine the details of your claim, we will give you an informed and realistic estimate of how much it may be worth.
What if the motorist who left the scene of the crash is located, but they deny responsibility?
This is why it is important to have an experienced attorney to handle your hit-and-run claim. Our staff knows how to hold negligent parties accountable. A thorough investigation can find the supporting facts needed from witness statements, damage to the offender’s vehicle, and other evidence.
How long do I have to file a hit-and-run claim?
Each state has a deadline for filing personal injury claims called a statute of limitations to ensure that cases can be handled within a reasonable time and while the evidence is reliable. In Iowa, this period is two years from the date of the incident.
Don’t Wait to Contact LaMarca Law Group, P.C.
If you or someone you love has suffered at the hands of a hit-and-run driver, it is very important that you get the help you need. Our team will walk you through this difficult time and make sure you are granted all of your legal rights. Don’t wait to reach out to a Des Moines hit-and-run accident attorney. Just call (515) 225-2600 or contact us online and set up a free consultation to review your case.