It was early in the morning on May 11, 2019, when deputies in Council Bluffs came across a bicyclist who had been struck by a motorist [Source: AP News]. William Shepard, 55, was found in a roadside ditch at around 2:00 a.m. although there was no one else around at the time of the accident. Officers transported Shepard to an area hospital where he later died. At around 7:30 a.m. that same day, county communications received a call from Robert Christensen, 56, who reported that he may have been the driver who hit Shepard.
Christensen, who is a former police officer for the Council Bluffs police force, ended up pleading guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal accident and in return, received a deferred judgment from the judge. Under the deferred judgment, Christensen could potentially have his conviction removed from his record if he were to successfully complete the two years’ probation the judge sentenced him to.
It is accidents like these that serve as a prime example of why the state requires drivers to remain at the scene of an accident as well as render to a person injured in the accident reasonable assistance. This includes transporting them to a hospital or arranging for transportation so that medical treatment can be rendered. There are many cases where a person has survived an accident only because they were able to obtain immediate medical attention.
Are drivers in Iowa always required to remain at the scene of an accident?
When a driver has been involved in an accident with another motorist in Iowa, there are a number of things they are required to do, including remaining at the scene of the crash. The law requires that a driver:
- Immediately remove the vehicle from the traveled portion of the roadway “if the vehicle is operable and the removal can be achieved in a safe manner.” The vehicle can be moved to the shoulder, emergency lane, or median nearest to the scene of the accident so as long as it is completely off the traveled portion of the roadway and is not obstructing traffic.
- The driver shall remain at the scene until they have fulfilled the following requirements:
- When an accident has resulted in injury to or death of a person or damage to a vehicle, the driver shall provide those involved with their name, address, vehicle registration number, insurance information, and their driver’s license.
- It is especially important that the police are called so that medical personnel can be dispatched if needed and a police report can be written up. Even if the accident appears to be a minor fender bender, it is always recommended that you call 911 following an accident. Although a driver might claim they are uninjured and/or the collision was their fault, they could later turn around and tell their insurer an entirely different story which could then put you on the line for paying covering damages. To prevent this from happening and to ensure you have documentation that the accident occurred, call the police so that an officer can come out.
- In the event the car accident has resulted in the death of a person, you are also required to remain at the scene, that is, unless you have left to seek aid or to report the accident to a law enforcement officer. Before leaving, a driver must leave the surviving motorist’s driver’s license, automobile registration receipt, or another form of identification at the scene of the accident. After reporting the accident to a law enforcement officer or to medical personnel, the driver must then immediately return to the scene.
Any driver who fails to remain at the scene of an accident is guilty of a misdemeanor. They could face additional charges if the accident resulted in an injury to another or death.
Should I contact an Iowa car accident lawyer after a collision?
Absolutely. While you may not need to retain a car accident lawyer following a crash, it cannot hurt to contact one. While you might not recognize how large of a case you might have or what it is worth, the Iowa car accident attorneys at Eells & Tronvold Law Offices, P.L.C. will be able to. So, if you or a loved one was recently involved a crash in Iowa and would like to speak with a lawyer to find out if their services are needed, contact our car accident law firm today by calling (319) 393-1020.
You can reach Eells & Tronvold Law Offices, P.L.C. at:
1921 51st Street NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Phone: (319) 393-1020
Fax: (319) 393-4000