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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 34270
Experience:  16 yrs. of experience including criminal law.
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I need some advice on how to proceed with an incident that

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I need some advice on how to proceed with an incident that occurred this morning. I was driving to work at around 0430. I am a physician and was on my way to a rural hospital to work a shift in the emergency room. The hospital is 90 mins away. As I started out this morning I was a bit more tired than usual, so my thought process was a bit more hazy than normal. I was making a left turn at a stoplight when my GPS unit began to slide off the dashboard. (I recently purchased one and have not found a solid way to keep it attached). Not thinking correctly, I instinctively went to grab the GPS unit with my right hand. My left hand responded by pulling down on the wheel more than it should have. The result was a tighter turn than I had intended and I hit the island and knocked down the warning sign for the island that was there. I got out of my car to remove the sign from the street and check damage on the car. There was very little to no damage to my car and since there were no other people or cars involved, I continued on to work, since ER coverage in imperative and I needed to be on time. The question I have is where do I proceed from here? What legal obligation do I have to report this now or in a timely fashion? Who would I even call? Is this considered hit and run? How do I go about providing compensation for the repair? Since this is a public road, is this covered by taxes I pay? If I do end up paying, how do I insure that I am paying a reasonable repair cost and am not getting taking advantage of or ripped off by a beauracracy? I want to do the right thing and am not trying to get out of my responsibility here? I just don't know what to do. Since it was so early when it happened I knew there would be no one to call (except the police) and since it was not an emergency I knew it would take forever for them to respond or help me out. I also had to get to work on time to relieve the other physician. No alcohol or medications were involved in this. Can you help me understand how to proceed? Thank you.
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

This sign you hit, can you verify, was this on city/county property? It was a city/county sign?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thanks for your reponse. It was in the city. It was on the overpass of the interstate that runs through the city, but it was definitely in the city limits of Des Moines.

The good news is your not a "criminal" for hit and run...not yet anyways.

Lets start with the IA code.

321.266 Reporting accidents.1. The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of such accident to the sheriff of the county in which said accident occurred, or the nearest office of the state patrol, or to any other peace officer as near as practicable to the place where the accident occurred.2. The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person, or total property damage to an apparent extent of one thousand dollars or more shall, within seventy-two hours after the accident, forward a written report of the accident to the department. However, such report is not required when the accident is investigated by a law enforcement agency.3. Every law enforcement officer who, in the regular course of duty, investigates a motor vehicle accident of which report must be made as required in subsections 1 to 3 of this section, either at the time of and at the scene of the accident or thereafter by interviewing participants or witnesses shall, within twenty-four hours after completing such investigation, forward a written report of such accident to the department.4. Notwithstanding section 455B.386, a carrier transporting hazardous material upon a public highway in this state, in the case of an accident involving the transportation of the hazardous material, shall immediately notify the police radio broadcasting system established pursuant to section 693.1 or shall notify a peace officer of the county or city in which the accident occurs. When a local law enforcement agency is informed of the accident, the agency shall notify the state patrol and the state department of transportation office of motor vehicle enforcement. A person who violates a provision of this subsection is guilty of a serious misdemeanor.

Then, there is this provision

321.265 Striking fixtures upon a highway.The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in damage to property legally upon or adjacent to a highway shall take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner, a peace officer, or person in charge of the damaged property of the damage and shall inform the person of the driver's name and address and the registration number of the vehicle causing the damage and shall, upon request and if available, exhibit the driver's license of the driver of the vehicle and shall report the accident when and as required in section 321.266.

SO, you need to report this. If you do not, and are discovered, it would be a crime. But you have least 72 hours...or more if there was less than $1000 total damages. IF you do not report, its possible you could be prosecuted under 321.266.

You would report to the if its city property, you can notify the city. You can notify city police, or you could contact the Des Moines City (here) and let them know.

Let me know if you have more questions
P. Simmons and 4 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for you answer. I contacted the pubic works dept in Des Moines to let them know what happened. They took my phone number and told me they would "just fix it". I asked them if I needed to give more information so they could send me a bill. He said no, that they would just fix it. I took the man's name down and have documented the time of the call and the phone number. Is this considered filing a report? Is there anything else I need to do to protect myself? Should I contact DM PD as well? Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.
Your way ahead of this one...if you look at the statutes I sent, you have complied with the requirements of the law. Your report to public works did this.

You can contact the police if you like, but I do not read that you have an obligation to do so.

I think you may be "off the hook"

Of course, if the city contacts you, you will want to respond...but I do not see a further obligation on your part to contact the city.

Let me know if you have more questions.