Iowa Bicycle Accidents and Wrongful Death Claims

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Posted by Ben Long

Iowa’s annual bike ride, RAGBRAI, shows what an important hobby bike riding has become for many Iowans.  The increase of bicyclists on the road, however, means more accidents – including serious or fatal ones.  According to Iowa Public Radio, Iowa averages around seven bike crash deaths each year.

If you have recently lost a loved one due to an Iowa bicycle accident, there’s a few things you need to know.

What Does a Wrongful Death Claim Mean in Iowa?

Wrongful death is a term that means someone has died because of the fault of someone else.  If you are bringing a wrongful death claim in Iowa, it’s important to know that it is a civil claim.  This is different than a criminal case brought against the person who harmed your loved one.  In a criminal case, the defendant would face possible jail time or probation for their actions. However, this type of case will not provide any monetary support, which you may require if you’re financially struggling now that your loved one is gone.  That is where a civil claim comes in.

In a civil claim, you are able to seek out monetary damages, but no criminal punishment against the person who killed your loved one.  It also means that you (or your attorney) must prove in court that the person who hurt your loved one was negligent in their actions.  If you cannot do so, it’s unlikely you will be able to receive any compensation.

Wrongful Death Damages You Could Recover

In Iowa, certain family members are allowed to seek monetary compensation after a loved one has died.  There are several types of damages you can seek.  They can include:

  • All medical expenses related to the injuries suffered by your loved one. Examples of this include the hospital bills incurred by treating your loved one before their death or money spent on an ambulance ride while trying to save them.
  • Funeral and burial expenses of your loved one.
  • Loss of earnings. If your loved one was not immediately killed, and instead spent some time in the hospital before their death, you may be able to get damages for those lost wages.

You can also seek out lost future earnings.  These earnings are the projected amount that your loved one would have earned over the course of their lifetime.  Loss of future earnings is a complex calculation that takes into account a variety of different factors.  It will require an economic expert to properly compute this amount.

  • Loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is a claim that factors in the loss of companionship and guidance your loved one would have provided to you if they had lived.  As you might imagine, it can be difficult to put a dollar amount on this type of damages.  An experienced Iowa wrongful death attorney can have an expert calculate this on your behalf.

Time May Be Running Out to File an Iowa Wrongful Death Claim

There is a limited amount of time you have to bring a wrongful death claim in Iowa.  Iowa personal injury claims, including bicycle accident claims, generally require you to file a lawsuit or settle your case within two years.  If you do not settle or get your lawsuit on file, then you can miss out on compensation for your losses.

It’s a good idea to contact an attorney as soon as you can after losing your loved one in a bicycle crash.  It can take up to six months for a knowledgeable attorney to investigate your claim, so don’t wait.  If you would like a free, no-obligation case evaluation about your potential Iowa wrongful death claim, call RSH Legal today at 1-319-774-1783.

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