Iowa | FAQs

Are punitive damages possible in an Iowa wrongful death case?


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Iowa law determines whether punitive damages will be available for your wrongful death claim

Yes. While not every wrongful death case filed in Iowa will result in an award of punitive damages, it is possible to recover punitive damages in an Iowa wrongful death case.

The Iowa wrongful death law is a survival law. The courts have held that the representative bringing the lawsuit should have all of the legal remedies that the decedent would have had if he had lived. Thus, in 1975 the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals held that if the deceased could have recovered punitive damages had he lived, then punitive damages may be available in an Iowa wrongful death case.

When Can Punitive Damages Be Awarded?

While punitive damages are possible in a wrongful death action, they are not automatic. Many wrongful death cases end with an award of other kinds of wrongful death damages, but not punitive damages.

Punitive damages may be awarded against a defendant if the defendant acted in a wanton, willful, reckless, and grossly negligent manner when committing the action (or inaction) that led to your loved one’s death.

In order to meet this standard and recover punitive damages in an Iowa wrongful death case, you are going to need to present evidence and make persuasive arguments about why the defendant’s actions were wanton, willful, reckless and grossly negligent. For example, punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant is a drunk driver who killed your loved one in a crash.

Protect Your Fair Recovery

In some states, punitive damages do not survive the death of the injured person. However, in Iowa punitive damages may be awarded in wrongful death claims and you have the right to protect your recovery of all damages including punitive damages.

Punitive damages may allow you to hold the person who killed your loved one accountable. If you are interested in learning more about your rights and your potential recovery then we encourage you to contact us directly via this website or by phone to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced wrongful death lawyer.

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham

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