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Fatal Eastern Iowa Crash - Center Line Crossed

On 08/05/16, news outlets are reporting that a fatal crash occurred on US HWY 61 in Eastern Iowa. Reports are that the collision occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m. near Blue Grass, Iowa outside of Davenport, Iowa. A pickup driven by 36 year old Zachary Whitsel may have crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a vehicle operated by 51 year old Charles Dibbern.

Unfortunately, fatal collisions are far too common in Iowa. When these events happen, our collective hearts hurt for the surviving family and friends. We generally believe the days and weeks following the tragic event should be reserved for grieving and mourning as well as celebrating the life of the departed loved one. However, we attorneys at Hixson & Brown, P.C. understand that this time period is critical when it comes to protecting the rights of the decedent and his or her family members.

Iowa Code § 321.297 states "A vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway upon all roadways of sufficient width..." However, the statute provides exceptions for such things as "when an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the roadway, provided, any person so doing shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the roadway within such distance as to constitute an immediate hazard"

In short, what may appear to be a simple case of liability requires investigation. Questions need to be asked and answers need to be determined regarding the collision. Some examples:

· Were there obstructions requiring the crossing vehicle to take evasive, emergency action?

· If so, was the other vehicle within a distance sufficient to constitute an immediate hazard?

· What was the speed of the vehicles and how did this affect the collision?

· Were vehicles properly maintained and in working order (i.e. proper headlamps)?

· Was an operator distracted on a cell phone?

· Was an operator under the influence of any narcotic or alcohol?

Surviving family and friends need to be aware that the days and weeks following a fatal accident are critical to any wrongful death claim that may be brought by the survivors in the future. The investigation into the incident will not wait for family and friends to grieve. Instead, insurance companies will be hard at work collecting statements, examining vehicles and studying the scene of the accident - and they will not be doing it with the deceased's interests in mind. As cynical as it may sound, an insurance company's investigation will be geared towards limiting losses (in other words, paying as little as possible). It is for this reason that surviving family should immediately contact an attorney with experience handling wrongful death cases. The surviving family needs someone investigating the collision with their interests in mind. If this is not done, the information may soon fade or disappear and the surviving family will be left with the insurance company's conclusions.

An experienced attorney can assist in many aspects. First and foremost, the attorney can help guide the investigation and gathering of critical evidence that can prove vital in later obtaining fair compensation from any at-fault person or company or in presenting the case to a jury. Hixson & Brown has experience with such investigations. To learn more about how Hixson & Brown has previously conducted a successful scene investigation of a fatal motorcycle collision, please click here.

It should be noted that an experienced attorney can also assist in more ways than just investigating the scene. An experienced attorney can help surviving family understand their rights and what steps need to be taken with respect to such things as opening an estate, life insurance, protecting children and auto insurance.

Until we develop accident prevention solutions, surviving family need to understand the importance of the days and weeks following a collision. If you have experienced a loss of a loved one due to a fatal accident, please call our office at 515-222-2620. We would be more than happy to provide a free consultation and explanation as to what needs to be done to protect you and your loved ones.

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