A car accident can lead to a lot of questions about the future. If serious injuries resulted, a person may question when–if ever–they will heal, be able to return to work, and once again participate in much-loved activities. If a vehicle has been significantly damaged, questions may surface about how long vehicle repairs will take and how much they will cost. In all cases, though, a person who has suffered damages will want to know who will pay for their losses. The answer to this question is determined, in large part, by whether or not fault or no-fault rules apply. Here’s what you should know about fault vs. no-fault states and what the rules are in Iowa–
What’s the Difference Between Fault and No-Fault States?
At-fault or no-fault refers to what the rules are for filing a claim after a car accident and who is responsible for paying for damages. In a no-fault state, a driver who is involved in an accident has an obligation to bring a claim with their own insurance company first before they bring a claim against the other driver; in fact, they may not be permitted to bring a claim against the other driver at all unless certain injury and damages thresholds are met.
In a fault-based state, on the other hand, drivers are responsible for paying for the accidents that they cause. Iowa follows a fault-based system, also known as a tort liability system. As such, in Iowa, a driver who is involved in a crash has three options for compensation:
- File a claim against their own insurance policy (if they carry certain insurance coverage types, like uninsured motorist coverage or personal injury protection coverage);
- File a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage; or
- File a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver.
Can I Sue Under Iowa’s Law?
Yes – in an at-fault state like Iowa, an injured party has the right to bring a lawsuit against an at-fault party for damages. The at-fault party may be the other driver involved in the crash or another third party, such as the vehicle manufacturer of a defective vehicle part that caused the crash.
While filing a lawsuit is a right, filing a lawsuit is typically a last-resort option. Before going to litigation, it is advised to bring forth a claim against the party and enter into negotiations outside of court. If a resolution cannot be reached, only then is litigation advised.
What Do I Have to Prove to Win a Lawsuit?
When you file a fault-based claim against another driver, the insurance company will only pay that claim if you can prove that the other driver was at-fault for the accident and that there is causation between the accident and your injuries. You’ll also need to prove the extent of damages that you’ve suffered.
Similarly, if your case goes to court, the burden will rest on you, the plaintiff, to prove that the other party breached their duty of care owed to you by acting negligently or recklessly (i.e. manufactured a defective vehicle part, was speeding, etc.); that the breach of duty of care was the proximate cause of the accident; and that the accident led to actual damages, such as monetary expenses, pain, suffering, and more.
How Much Time Do I Have?
Following a car accident, it’s always important to act quickly. The sooner that you take action, the greater the chances are that evidence relevant to your case will be preserved, the more likely you are to recover a settlement sooner rather than later, and the lower the risk of breaching the statute of limitations.
If you are unsure how much time you have to file a claim with your insurance company after your crash, you should review your policy. It is recommended to file a claim as soon as possible, though. Additionally, note that the statute of limitations in Iowa, which is two years, bars your right to file a lawsuit if more than two years have passed since the date of the accident.
Call the Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP Today for the Help You Need
If you have been in a serious car accident, you need a serious lawyer on your side. Call the Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP today for a free consultation and the support you need.