Answers to Your Iowa Dog Bite Legal Questions

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From helping you after a dog attack or truck accident in Wisconsin to defending your rights as a rider, the personal injury trial attorneys at Hupy & Abraham will be fierce advocates in your time of need.

With offices across Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa, and representing clients hurt by slip and fall incidents, car accidents, wrongful deaths, drug and medical device injuries, dog bites, nursing home abuse and motorcycle crashes, we are available where you need us and when you need us.

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  • Is an Iowa landlord legally responsible for injuries caused when a renter’s dog bites someone?

    Only in rare circumstances is an Iowa landlord financially responsible for a dog bite injuryIowa’s dog bite statute applies only to dog owners, not the landlords who rent property to dog owners. Thus, it is often easier to seek compensation from the owner of the dog if you’ve been injured on a rental property. However, in some cases—such as when the renter does not have renter’s insurance or significant assets—you may be left without a recovery from the dog’s owner after a dog bite injury.

    Landlord Liability May Be Difficult to Establish

    Generally, Iowa landlords are not held liable for dog attacks in areas that the landlords do not control. Thus, if the attack occurred inside of a house or apartment that was controlled by the tenant, then the landlord would likely not be liable for the injuries from a dog bite. However, if the dog attack occurred in a common area and the landlord knew or should have known that the dog was vicious or likely to bite, attack, or be aggressive, then it is possible that the landlord could be held responsible for the dog bite injuries.

    Get the Help You Deserve After an Iowa Dog Bite

    If you’ve been bitten by a dog on an Iowa rental property, then it is important to talk to an experienced dog bite lawyer about your rights and about how to best protect your recovery. Please start a live chat with us now for more information about what you can do to get the recovery that you deserve for your injury.

  • My child was bitten by an unregistered dog in Iowa, and I’m not sure the dog had received its rabies shots. What should I do?

    A dog bite may mean your child must undergo painful rabies treatments.Iowa cities and towns require that pet dogs be registered with the municipality. Part of the registration process requires proof of a rabies vaccination from the pet’s veterinarian. However, some pet owners fail to comply with these ordinances and, thus, when someone is bitten or hurt by the dog it can be difficult to know whether the dog had received its rabies vaccine.

    What Will Happen to Your Child Now?

    Your child’s doctor is in the best position to determine what treatment your child may need. If there is no proof that the dog that bit your child had the rabies vaccine, then your child’s doctor may recommend that your child be treated. Rabies treatment is a series of shots that are typically given over a 14-day period. The shots are received in the arm.

    While multiple shots—particularly for a child—are often unpleasant, they may be necessary to prevent rabies. Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain and nervous system and usually results in death. There is currently no way to test for rabies in a live animal. Thus, if there is no proof that the dog that bit your child had the rabies vaccine, then your child may need to undergo treatment.

    Of course, if you know who owns the dog that hurt your child, then you may be able to pursue legal damages against that person for the significant harm that has been done to your child. To find out more about your child’s legal rights after an Iowa dog bite, please read our FREE dog bite brochure, Because You Don't Always Get a Warning.

  • I live in Iowa and I witnessed my child get bitten by a dog. Can I recover damages?

    Maybe. In 1981, the Iowa Supreme Court recognized that a bystander to a personal injury accident could recover for his or her emotional damages in some situations.

    Specifically, in the case of Barnhill v. Davis, 200 N.W.2d 104 (Iowa 1981), the court found that a person who was not physically injured in an accident might be able to recover damages in a bystander emotional distress claim if:

    • The bystander was near the scene. If you saw your child get attacked, then this element of your claim is likely satisfied.
    • The bystander’s emotional distress was caused from observing the incident and not because the bystander learned of the incident after it happened. In other words, the court distinguished the emotional distress of seeing an accident happen from learning about the accident, and you would need to prove that your emotional distress was caused by actually witnessing the dog bite your child.
    • The bystander and the victim were married or related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity. This would include a parent–child relationship.
    • The bystander believed, and a reasonable person in the position of the bystander would have believed, that the victim would be seriously injured or killed. You would need to prove that during the attack you believed that your child would be seriously injured or killed, and not merely hurt.

    The bystander’s emotional distress must be serious. It is not enough that you are stressed about your child’s recovery or nervous around dogs. Instead, your emotional distress must be significant enough to give rise to a legal claim.

    A bystander emotional distress claim is not always easy to prove. However, if you suffer physical symptoms from the horror of watching your child get hurt by a dog, then you could have a legal claim that is worth considering.

  • How long do I have to file a dog bite lawsuit in Iowa?

    Time is limited to file a dog attack lawsuit in Iowa

    If you’ve been bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog in Iowa, then the state limits the amount of time that you have to bring a lawsuit against the dog owner. The reason for the time limitation is not to pressure you or add unnecessary stress to what is already a difficult time. Instead, statutes of limitations exist to promote a fair and timely resolution to your claim so that evidence remains available and both parties have some certainty about the timeline for the claim.

    Generally, You Have Two Years to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Iowa…But There Are Exceptions

    Iowa law provides you with two years to file a lawsuit in court. The statute of limitations starts running on the date of your injury, unless an exception to the law applies. The statute of limitations may be extended if:

    • The person bitten by the dog was a minor at the time of the bite and his or her parents did not bring a claim. In this case, the statute of limitations would typically expire on the victim’s 19th birthday.
    • The person bitten by the dog was not mentally competent at the time of the injury. Thus, the victim could not make a competent decision about whether to bring a claim.
    • The defendant (typically the dog owner) files bankruptcy. In this case the statute of limitations may be put on hold while the bankruptcy case is proceeding.

    Whether or not these exceptions apply, there may be benefits to filing a claim sooner rather than later.

    Don’t Wait—Take Action Today

    There is no reason to wait until you are close to the time that the statute of limitations may expire. Instead, there are two important benefits to taking action quickly after you are hurt. First, the sooner you file a claim the sooner you may be able to recover damages, and second, more evidence may be available if you pursue a claim quickly.

    To learn more about how Iowa dog bite cases work and about protecting your rights after a dog bite in Iowa, please read our FREE dog bite brochure or call us directly for a free consultation.

  • What’s going to happen to my child if her facial scar revision surgery is not successful after a dog bite?

    Facial scar revision surgery sounds promising. It sounds like your child may not have to show the physical scars of her dog bite for the rest of her life.

    Unfortunately, facial scar revision surgery is not the same as eliminating scarring. The plastic surgeon may be able to revise the scars. The doctor may be able to:

    • Make the scar smaller.
    • Make the scar blend in with the skin a bit better.
    • Move the scar to the shadow of your child’s face or to her hairline.

    Yet the scar will still remain. It not usually possible to make a scar disappear completely. In addition, the area that the dog bit may have been so large that a satisfactory revision may be impossible.

    Furthermore, the surgery may be traumatic itself. It may be painful and it may be scary for your child, and your child may have to continue to live with the uncomfortable acts and prejudice assumptions that some people make when they see a person with a facial deformity.

    We are not trying to discourage you from consenting to a facial scar revision surgery for your child. Instead, we are trying to encourage you to do two things. First, we recommend having an honest conversation with your child’s doctor and seeking a second opinion, if appropriate. Make sure that you have the knowledge that you need to make an informed decision on your child’s behalf. Second, we recommend learning about your child’s legal rights. Know what you can do to protect your child’s future.

    Please read our free dog bite brochure for more information on how to help your child.