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Your Guide to the Iowa Dog Bite Statute

Iowa’s dog bite law determines when a dog owner is liable for your injuries

Iowa, like most states, has a statute that protects the recoveries of dog bite victims. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a dog, then it is important to understand the terms of the law so you can make an informed decision about how to protect your possible recovery.

What the Law Says

In Iowa, a dog owner is strictly liable for a victim’s dog bite injury with limited exceptions. Iowa Code Chapter 351, Section 28 (351.28) answers the following questions for dog bite victims:

  • Who is responsible for a dog bite injury? The owner of the dog is usually liable for dog bite damages.
  • In what situations is the owner responsible for the injuries caused by a dog? The owner may be liable if the dog hurts another person by biting that person; attacking that person; attempting to bite the person; or being caught in the act of worrying, maiming, or killing a domestic animal. Only one of these four situations must have occurred and damages must have resulted for an injured person to bring a dog bite case in Iowa.
  • Are there any exceptions to owner liability? Yes. The owner may not be liable if the person who was injured was committing an unlawful act that directly contributed to his injury, or if the dog had rabies (hydrophobia). However, the rabies exception does not apply if the owner had reasonable grounds to know about the hydrophobia and failed to take reasonable efforts to prevent an injury.
  • What can a dog bite victim recover? Victims may recover for “all damages done by the dog.” This may include things such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and permanent disfigurements.

While the law is clear about the liability for dog bite injuries, dog bite recoveries may still be contested by dog owners or insurance companies. Dog owners or their insurers may argue, for example, that an exception applies and that they should not be liable…or they may dispute the value of your injuries.

Accordingly, it is important to learn more about your rights, about your possible dog bite damages, and about the tips that can help you protect yourself after a dog bite injury. You can get started today by reading our FREE dog bite brochure or by starting a live chat with us now.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham