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Thankfully, accident injuries are not something that most people regularly endure. Because of this, however, you likely have questions about your recovery. In this section, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions we are asked on a wide range of personal injury topics and we encourage you to browse this section for important information that you need.
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Are punitive damages possible in an Iowa personal injury case?
Chapter 668A of the Iowa Code allows punitive damages (also known as exemplary damages) to be awarded in some personal injury cases. Punitive damages are awarded far less frequently than compensatory damages, and they serve a different purpose.
Punitive Damages Are Meant to Punish the Defendant
While compensatory damages are meant to compensate the person who was hurt for things such as medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and other losses, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant. The law only allows this type of punishment in certain situations.
The law requires that special questions be answered by a jury (or by the court, if there is no jury) in order for punitive damages to be awarded. Specifically, the jury or judge must determine:
- Whether the defendant’s conduct that caused the injury was done with “willful and wanton disregard for the rights or safety of another.” This must be proven “by a preponderance of clear, convincing, and satisfactory evidence”—a standard that is much higher than is required to prove compensatory damages in an Iowa personal injury case. Punitive damages may only be awarded if this standard is met.
- Whether the defendant’s conduct was directed at the person who was hurt. If the defendant’s conduct was directed at the person who was hurt, then the full amount of punitive damages may be awarded. If, however, the defendant’s conduct was not directed at the person who was hurt, but an injury happened anyway, then the plaintiff may recover up to 25% of the punitive damages awarded, with the rest going into a state trust fund.
Punitive damages can serve two important public policies. First, they can punish the defendant for extreme wrongdoing. Second, they can deter others from acting in a similar way and from hurting other people in the future.
For these reasons, it is important to speak with an experienced Iowa personal injury lawyer as soon as possible about protecting your rights and getting all of the damages you deserve after an Iowa accident. Contact us online or call us directly at 800.800.5678 to schedule your free, confidential consultation today.
How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit in Iowa?
According to Iowa Code §614.1(2), you generally have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in an Iowa court. While the Iowa statutes are clear on this timeframe, there are some factors that could make lengthen or shorten the statute of limitations for you.
Regardless of when your personal statute of limitations will end, it is important to take action quickly. There is no need to wait until the statute of limitations is about to expire to contact a personal injury lawyer. Instead, you can begin preserving evidence and getting the recovery that you deserve as soon as you know that you are hurt by contacting us today for a free consultation.
Exceptions to the Iowa Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
The two-year statute of limitations may be extended if the person who is hurt:
- Has a mental illness at the time of the injury.
- Is a minor at the time of the injury.
In these circumstances, Iowa Code §614.1(8) provides that a lawsuit may be filed by the person who was hurt within one year from the time the mental illness ends or the time the minor becomes an adult. Of course, this assumes that a parent or legal guardian did not file a case on the injured person’s behalf earlier.
Similarly, the time for filing a personal injury case against a government entity may be shorter than two years because of special rules about suing government employees and agencies.
Don’t Miss the Deadline
You need to know when your personal injury statute of limitations will expire so that you don’t miss it. If you do not file your case before the statute of limitations expires and you file it after the legal deadline then you should expect that the defendant will file a motion to dismiss your case which will be quickly granted by the court. You won’t be able to recover any damages.
How do I file a personal injury lawsuit in Iowa?
You’ve done your research. You understand how a personal injury case works in Iowa, you believe that you have a case, and you expect that the court will award you damages for your injuries. Now, however, you have to take action and file your case correctly so that you can begin the process of getting the compensation that you deserve.
Take the Right Steps to Protect Your Rights
Your case officially begins when you file a petition in an Iowa district court. Your petition must include:
- The names of all parties involved. This includes you and anyone that you are naming as a defendant in your lawsuit.
- Your theory of recovery. You must provide your legal grounds for filing a lawsuit. Many personal injury plaintiffs allege that the defendant was negligent, for example.
- The relief that you are seeking. This is where you tell the court about the injury and damages that you suffered because of the defendant and about the specific compensation that you are seeking.
In addition to filing this petition (also known as a complaint) in an Iowa district court, you will need to make sure that the petition is served (or properly delivered) to each defendant in the case.
You Don’t Have to File Your Case Alone
The rules explained above may seem easy to follow, but they can be complicated. The information that you provide in your petition is going to set the stage for your lawsuit and eventual recovery.
You need to get it right and we can help. Our experienced personal injury lawyers will make sure that your rights to all potential compensation will be protected. For more information about filing a personal injury case in Iowa or about your possible recovery, we encourage you to contact us online or call us directly at 800.800.5678. We would be happy to set up a free consultation and to help you take the legal steps that you need to take before the statute of limitations expires and you no longer have time to file your claim.
Do I have the legal right to file a personal injury lawsuit in Iowa?
You have the legal right—or standing—to sue after an Iowa personal injury accident if you were the one who suffered an actual injury or if you have a certain legal relationship to someone who suffered an actual injury. The threat of an injury or being scared that an injury will occur because of someone else’s wrongdoing will not allow you to recover damages in court.
But an Injury Will Give You Standing to File a Case
Iowa law will allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit if:
- You were the one who was hurt. If you suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence, you are 18 or older, and you are of sound mind, then you have standing to file a lawsuit.
- You are the parent of a minor child who was hurt. A minor child cannot file a lawsuit independently. However, as the child’s parent you have the right to file a personal injury case on behalf of your child. The recovery would be for the benefit of your child.
- You are the legal guardian of someone who was hurt. The rules here are similar to those of a parent and child. If you have been named by the court as the legal guardian of someone else and that person is injured, then you may have the right to file a case for the benefit of the person who was hurt.
- You are the personal representative of the estate of someone who died. If you are the personal representative of someone’s estate and that person died in a personal injury accident then you have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate. Any recovery that is made will belong to the estate.
It is important to determine whether or not you have standing before you file a lawsuit. If you do not have standing to sue, then the defendant will raise that issue quickly and your case will be dismissed without your recovering any damages. That is not worth your time and effort.
Instead, you want to be sure that you have the standing that you need and that you know how a personal injury case works in Iowa so you can minimize any surprises and protect your fair and just recovery. Please contact us online or call us directly at 800.800.5678.
Can I still recover damages if I was partly at fault for my personal injury accident?
The answer to your question depends on two things. First, you must have suffered an injury in a personal injury incident. Second, you must not have been the one who was primarily responsible for the incident that resulted in your injuries. In other words, someone else (or a group of people) must bear the primary responsibility for the accident and your resulting injuries.
Iowa Law Is Clear
Iowa Code 668.3 explains when you may recover damages even if you bear some of the legal responsibility for your injury. According to the statute:
- Your personal injury case may proceed—and you may recover damages—unless you bear a greater percentage of fault then the defendant(s).
- Any damages that you recover will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to you. This percentage may be decided during settlement negotiations with the insurance company or it may be decided by the court. For example, if you are found to be 15% at fault for the incident that led to your injury, then your recovery will be reduced by 15%.
The law seeks to make your recovery fair for you and for the defendant who should not have to pay for your own negligence.
Evidence and Advocacy Are the Keys to Your Fair Recovery
You can expect that the percentage of fault will be hotly contested during settlement negotiations or in court. The defendants will want to maximize the percentage of fault attributable to you so that their own liability is minimized and so that they have to pay you less in a settlement or court verdict.
A thorough investigation, reliable evidence, and strong advocacy skills can result in a fairly negotiated settlement or an accurate court verdict. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you with all of these things. To learn more about how a personal injury case works in Iowa, please contact us online or call us directly at 800.800.5678 to schedule your own free, no-obligation consultation with us.
How long do I have to file an Iowa medical malpractice case?
Like all other states, Iowa limits the amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit if you’ve been hurt or if you’ve lost a loved one because of medical malpractice.
The Rule in Iowa
Iowa has a two-part statute of limitations for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice victims typically have:
- Two years from the time they know about, or should have reasonably known about, the medical malpractice injury.
- No more than six years from the date that the medical malpractice occurred to file a claim.
Both parts of the statute of limitations must be satisfied in order to bring an action.
Are There Exceptions?
There are two significant exceptions to the Iowa medical malpractice statute of limitations. Specifically:
- The six-year part of the statute of limitations does not apply to objects left in the body. For example, if a surgical instrument or a sponge was left in your body during surgery, then only the two-year part of the statute of limitations applies and the six-year part is inapplicable.
- Children who were hurt before their eighth birthday may file within the statute of limitations or no later than their tenth birthday. This is significantly different from the statute of limitations exception for minors for other types of personal injury cases.
Thus, if you have been injured by medical malpractice then it is important to take action as soon as possible. You can get started by scheduling a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney today. Simply call us at 1-800-800-5678 or start a live chat with us now to learn more.
Why is an insurance adjuster calling me after my spouse was killed in an Iowa accident?
Talking to an insurance adjuster is probably one of the last things that you want to do in the days and weeks following the fatal accident that killed your spouse. The adjuster is going to be looking to quickly put a price tag on your spouse’s life and death. He or she is going to want to figure out how little the insurance company can get away with paying and how soon you will commit to a settlement.
You don’t have to deal with this stress, nor do you have to play the insurance adjuster’s game. Instead, you have the right to tell the insurance adjuster that you are represented by an Iowa wrongful death lawyer and that all further communications should be with your attorney—and not directly with you.
You deserve to have your best interests protected during this difficult time. Our Des Moines wrongful death attorneys would be pleased to help you and your family. We are respectful of your loss and we are committed to making sure that your legal rights are protected. We understand that no amount of money will bring your loved one back, but we do not want you to suffer financially as you grieve.
Contact us online or call us directly at 1.800.800.5678 for a free consultation about your rights and for more information about how we may be able to help you stop the insurance adjuster’s calls and protect your rights.
During your phone call, order our FREE DVD, Secrets Insurance Companies Don't Want You To Know, to learn more about how insurance adjusters take advantage of bereaved families and injured customers.