Semi Accident Lawyer Representing Injury Victims in Hiawatha, Iowa

If you or someone you love was injured in a truck accident in Hiawatha, Iowa, you are in the right place. RSH Legal attorneys have represented victims of Hiawatha tractor-trailer collisions for over 30 years.

Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for those Iowans whom trucking companies may have otherwise taken advantage of.

Living in Hiawatha means sharing the road with large trucks. Unfortunately, commercial trucks can pose a danger to other motorists if they are not driven safely.

As the third largest city in Linn County, Iowa, Hiawatha has a significant amount of tractor-trailer traffic. Hiawatha employers like Newell Machinery Co., ABC Disposal Systems, Inc., CCB Packaging, Darrahs Inc., and Hawkeye Ready Mix, Inc., all attract a steady stream of large trucks.

For that reason, Interstate 380, U.S. Highway 218, and Iowa Highway 100 all have a lot of 18-wheeler traffic, and many truckers use nearby truck stops like Pilot Travel Center, Kwik Star, and Casey’s. In addition, Hiawatha’s neighboring city (Cedar Rapids) is home to national trucking companies like CRST, West Side Transport, Don Hummer Trucking, and JMS Transportation Company.

The net result is that there are a lot of trucks on the road in Linn County, Iowa, and there are too many truck wrecks in Hiawatha in particular.

If you want an expert in Hiawatha truck crash cases, contact RSH Legal today at 1-800-433-0283. We can help fight for fairness for you.

Attorney Tim Semelroth is the first and only Iowa truck accident lawyer who is board-certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in Trucking Accident Law.

Common Myths about Hiawatha Truck Accident Claims

Iowa Department of Transportation statistics show that tractor-trailer accidents cause death or major injury every year in Iowa. Despite the frequency of these injuries and deaths, common myths remain about what should happen after a semi crash.

Here are some of those misconceptions:

MYTH: If you hire an attorney, you will have to go to court

Thanks to Hollywood, the courtroom seems like a very intimidating place to the public. Iowa truck crash victims are often concerned that, if they hire an attorney, they will end up on trial being mercilessly grilled by a tricky trucking company lawyer.

Like many things in life, when it comes to our legal system, people shouldn’t believe everything they see on television.

In Iowa, most truck accident claims are settled out of court even if an attorney is involved some studies say as many as 90% of claims settle before trial. Insurance companies will often settle cases for a fair amount because an attorney is involved. They know that a good truck accident attorney presenting a legitimate case at trial poses a risk of a big payout for them. Insurance companies will often want to avoid that risk by offering a fair settlement before trial.

It is also important to know that the choice to go to court always rests with the client. The client decides whether to take a case to trial – not the attorney. Good Iowa truck accident attorneys will offer their opinions about whether going to trial is in the client’s best interest, but ultimately, it is the client’s decision.

MYTH: Any attorney who has handled a car accident case can handle an Iowa semi crash case

Many people (including some lawyers) mistakenly think of truck accidents as simply larger car accidents.

Not only are the vehicles very different, but the laws and regulations governing semi-trucks and the people who drive them are also very different. They’re not the basic rules of the road. Many of these laws and regulations are uniquely designed to protect other motorists from the unique dangers of 80,000-pound vehicles sharing our roads.

RSH Legal believes that understanding the details of commercial motor vehicle law is essential to handling a serious trucking case. Without that kind of specialized knowledge, an attorney could very well make a costly mistake.

Common Tractor-Trailer Collision Situations in Hiawatha

There are a variety of situations that frequently lead to truck accidents. Here are some of the most common crash situations that trucking companies should train their drivers to avoid:

Collisions at Intersections

Failing to obey a traffic sign or light, speeding, crossing a lane while turning, or coming from behind a blind spot are all obvious situations where the truck driver could be at fault for a crash at an intersection.

In addition, a semi driver also has the responsibility to approach, enter and cross intersections prepared to avoid collisions that might occur because of the actions of other drivers.  Therefore, many tractor-trailer collisions at intersections are preventable even if the truck driver did not technically violate a traffic law.

Collisions while Backing

Practically all collisions that occur while a commercial motor vehicle is backing are preventable by the truck driver. Semi-trucks have blind spots on all sides. That is why truck drivers are taught G.O.A.L. – Get Out and Look. The only way a driver can ensure that he or she knows the truck’s position is to get out of the truck and look.

A professional driver is not relieved of the responsibility to back up safely when another person acts as a guide during the maneuver. A guide is not in control of the semi’s movement. Therefore, the truck driver must continue to check all clearances when backing up. 

Front-end Collisions

Regardless of the abrupt or unexpected stop of a vehicle ahead, a professional truck driver can prevent front-end impact by always maintaining a safe following distance. Truck drivers should be taught to prepare for possible obstructions on the roadway, either in plain view or hidden by the crest of a hill or the curve of the road.

Over-driving headlights at night is a common cause of front-end collisions. Truck drivers are taught that night speed should not be greater than that which will permit the tractor-trailer to come to a stop within the forward distance illuminated by the tractor’s headlights.

Attorney Tim Semelroth is a graduate of the Legacy Corporation Trucking Course for Legal Professionals, which teaches a hands-on approach to trucking crash cases.

Do I Really Need a Hiawatha Truck Accident Attorney?

If you or someone you love was hurt in a semi crash, you’re likely wondering whether you need to talk to an attorney about the case.

Not every traffic accident requires a lawyer. Only certain Iowa personal injury cases benefit from legal representation.

Over many years of fighting for fairness on behalf of injured Iowans, RSH Legal has identified some key questions that can help a victim of a tractor-trailer collision decide whether consulting with an attorney is the right thing to do.

Has anyone been paying for your crash-related medical bills?

When we say “anyone”, we are talking about an insurance company or the government. After a truck accident, medical bills are often paid by:

  • health insurance
  • auto insurance – through “medical payment” coverage
  • workers’ compensation insurance – if the crash occurred while you were on the job
  • Medicare, or
  • Medicaid.

This is important to figure out because these insurance companies and government programs are usually legally entitled to be reimbursed out of any truck crash settlement or verdict.

Their right to reimbursement is in almost all insurance contracts and it is a right contained in Medicare and Medicaid law. If you don’t figure out your legal obligations to reimburse those who initially paid your crash-related medical bills, you will not know how much of your semi crash settlement you will be able to keep.

If you try to ignore your legal reimbursement obligations after you settle your truck wreck claim, you can end up getting sued.

That’s why you should check with an experienced Hiawatha truck accident attorney if a significant amount of your crash-related medical bills was paid by insurance or by the government.  Attorney assistance on this issue can benefit you in a couple of important ways.

First, the attorney can confirm what you are legally required to pay back. Second, the attorney can often negotiate a reduced reimbursement amount, so you get to keep more of your semi crash settlement or verdict.

Has anyone been compensating you for your crash-related lost wages?

Again, when we say “anyone,” we are talking about an insurance company.

After a semi crash, lost wages are sometimes covered by disability insurance or workers’ compensation insurance. Just like with medical bills, most insurance companies who cover some or all your lost wages after a tractor-trailer collision are legally entitled to be reimbursed out of any settlement or verdict.

This is important because, if you don’t figure out your legal obligations to reimburse those who initially covered your lost wages, you will not know how much of your crash settlement you will actually be able to keep.  Again, if you try to ignore your legal reimbursement obligations when you settle your Hiawatha truck wreck claim, you can end up getting sued.

That’s why you should check with an experienced Hiawatha truck accident lawyer if an insurance company paid you something for lost wages after a crash.  You will get the certainty of knowing what you are legally required to pay back, and an attorney can often negotiate to get that pay-back amount reduced.

Will you need medical treatment in the future because of the tractor-trailer crash?

If doctors are saying that you’ll likely need medical treatment in the future because of the wreck, you need to make sure that your settlement includes money for that future treatment.  You can’t go back to the trucking company in 5 or 10 years and ask for more money.

Most doctors don’t put predictions about a patient’s future medical needs in their records. That’s a problem because most insurance companies will not put money in a Hiawatha truck crash settlement for future medical treatment unless the need for that future treatment is clearly documented.

If you know you will need medical treatment in the future because of a tractor-trailer collision, you should check with an experienced Hiawatha truck accident attorney before you start settlement negotiations.

An attorney can review your medical records to confirm whether the future treatment predictions got written down.  If they did not get written in your records, an attorney can interview your doctor and get a set of signed opinions explaining what future treatment you will likely need because of the crash. The attorney can then submit these signed opinions to the trucking company’s insurance carrier before starting settlement negotiations.

Failing to take these steps will likely result in a settlement offer that’s less than what you deserve.

Unexpected Ways You Can Sink Your Hiawatha Truck Crash Case

If you were injured in a Hiawatha semi accident, your life and activities are now under a microscope. The trucking company and its insurance carrier will be looking for any way it can – fair or unfair – to avoid compensating you for your injuries.

A truck accident lawyer can try to get you a fair settlement for your harm and losses, but a lawyer cannot stop you from making certain mistakes that could ruin your case.

Here are some things that many people do not realize can sink your Hiawatha tractor-trailer collision case:

Talking about your case

Talking to other people about your truck crash can be extremely risky. Even innocent mentions about how you hired an attorney or that you are going to file a lawsuit can be hazardous to your case.

The trucking company can force anyone (other than your spouse or your attorney) to testify in court about what they think you said. It doesn’t matter if the listener misunderstood you or if they took your statement about the semi crash out of context.

Medical professionals do not like to be involved in legal issues, so discussing the details of your truck accident legal case with them can take their focus off treating your crash-related injuries.

We are not saying that you should not tell medical providers that you were injured in a truck wreck.  We are just suggesting you should limit your discussion to “I was in a semi crash.  I was hurt in a semi crash.  After the semi crash, I felt (fill in the blank).” There is no need to discuss lawsuits or lawyers with a doctor. 

The bottom line is you should not talk to other people about a potential lawsuit. If they ask you about it, make us the bad guy and say, “my attorney has told me not to talk about it.”

Forgetting that you may be under surveillance

Some trucking companies will even secretly hire private investigators with cameras to sit outside your home and follow you around, hoping to catch you doing some activity that you claim you cannot do because of the truck wreck.

The trucking company can then hide these surveillance photos and videos from you until after you testify under oath and then use them to make you look like a liar. A damning piece of surveillance can ruin your case.

Assume that the insurance company knows about any activities that you are doing outside your home, and make sure that you tell the truth. Don’t ever suggest that you cannot do something that you can.

Vacationing like normal

It’s important to change how you record your vacations while your truck accident case is going on. Trucking companies will often ask for any vacation photos or videos of you and your immediate family after a wreck.

Trucking company lawyers ask for this type of evidence because they know that vacation photos and videos typically show smiling, happy people doing fun activities. The trucking companies and their lawyers will then use these photos or videos to argue that your injuries are obviously not very severe.

As long as your semi crash case is ongoing, we suggest that you avoid being photographed or recorded on vacation. It is better if you serve as the family photographer during this time and take the photos of everyone else. This will protect you from having those vacation photos and videos unfairly used against you in your case.

It is especially important not to share these vacation photos or videos on social media where the trucking company can easily find them.

Attorney Tim Semelroth regularly shares his truck crash case knowledge with other attorneys at seminars and conventions.

RSH Legal, located in Cedar Rapids, handles car accident claims throughout Iowa, including Hiawatha.