When winter gives way to spring and temperatures begin to rise, motorcycles are a common sight on roads throughout the Hawkeye State. For many Iowans, riding is both a passion and a pastime, offering limitless opportunities for adventure.
However, staying safe atop two wheels is not always easy. Almost everyone who has taken a motorcycle safety course has heard the age-old adage, “ride like everybody’s out to kill you.” While driving defensively and remaining aware can significantly reduce motorcyclists’ risk of being involved in a collision, some accidents are simply unavoidable.
After an accident, victims often expect to receive reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company—but when the other motorist leaves the scene without stopping to exchange information, survivors may struggle to recover the compensation they need to begin rebuilding their lives.
Protecting Your Rights After a Hit-and-Run Motorcycle Accident in Iowa
Iowa, like most states, has a fault-based insurance system.
Under this fault-based system, the party found at fault for a collision is generally liable for the victim’s existing and anticipated accident-related expenses. However, victims can only exercise their rights when everyone involved in an accident abides by the law, cooperating and letting insurance negotiations run their course.
If the at-fault motorist leaves the scene of the accident without identifying themselves, injured motorcyclists can find themselves in a difficult situation. While you may still have options to recover damages, you must be proactive. You should protect your rights by taking the following steps:
The Iowa Code mandates that a motorist inform law enforcement if they have been involved in an accident resulting in any of the following:
- Property damage equivalent to, or exceeding $1500
- Personal injury
After a hit-and-run accident, the Iowa State Patrol or a local police department is required to perform an intensive investigation.
Even if first responders are unable to locate the at-fault driver, their written reports could serve as critical evidence if the at-fault driver is found or if you submit an insurance claim.
Create a Record
Accidents can happen in a matter of seconds, leaving victims with little time to assess their situation and make sense of their surroundings.
After ensuring your own safety, and the well-being of any pillion rider, use your phone, a piece of paper, or other device to record anything you remember about the driver who caused the collision. This could include:
- Your recollection of the circumstances leading up to the accident.
- A description of the at-fault driver.
- The make, model, and color of the other vehicle.
If your motorcycle is still operational, it may be tempting to try and pursue a hit-and-run driver.
However, if you have even an incomplete description of the other vehicle, it is best to let law enforcement and your attorney conduct their own investigations—trying to catch a hit-and-run driver could cause another accident, or increase your own out-of-pocket liability.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
You should always seek immediate medical attention after a hit-and-run motorcycle accident, even if you do not believe that you have been seriously injured. A physician could help you identify, diagnose, and treat potentially life-threatening but otherwise invisible injuries.
Additionally, seeing the doctor after an accident could show the insurance company that you have legitimate concerns about your physical health and are not simply trying to profit from tragedy.
If you do not need emergency medical treatment, try to collect any relevant evidence from the crash site. Evidence could include the following:
- Pictures of the physical damage to your motorcycle.
- Photographs of your visible injuries.
- A written recollection or audio description of the at-fault motorist and their vehicle.
If you believe that another person may have witnessed your accident, ask them for their full name, phone number, and other contact information—eyewitness testimony can be critical in any accident claim, but is especially vital in hit-and-run collision cases.
Your Potential Damages After a Hit-and-Run Motorcycle Accident
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you could be entitled to significant compensation through any of the following:
- A personal injury lawsuit
- A claim against an identified hit-and-run motorist’s insurance policy
- A claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits through your insurance policy
Unlike some states, Iowa does not currently limit the damages available in most hit-and-run motorcycle accident claims. You could be entitled to compensation for losses including, but not limited to, the following:
- Your past, present, and anticipated medical expenses
- Physical rehabilitation
- Paid deductibles and co-pays
- Reconstructive surgery
- Lost income from work
- Exhausted vacation days or paid time off (PTO)
- Diminished earning potential
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Wrongful death
While Iowa does not cap damages in most personal injury claims, the Hawkeye State does have a strict statute of limitations. Under Iowa’s statute of limitations, injured motorcyclists may only file legal claims within a pre-defined timeframe. If you wait too long to contact an experienced hit-and-run motorcycle accident attorney, the statute of limitations could lapse, costing you your legal right to a fair recovery.