Iowa law makes the owner financially liable for most dog bites

A dog bite injury can cause many different kinds of pain. You may feel physical pain, and you may also experience financial pain due to uncovered medical costs, lost income, and other expenses.

You shouldn’t have to pay your own damages…but who will pay if you don’t?

Should the Dog Owner Be the One to Pay for These Damages?

Iowa law provides that a dog owner is responsible for all damages if a person is hurt by a dog:

  • When the dog is caught in the action of worrying, maiming, or killing a domestic animal.
  • When the dog is attacking or attempting to bite a person.

However, the dog owner is not responsible for paying damages if:

  • The person who was hurt was doing an unlawful act that directly contributed to the injury.
  • The dog was affected by rabies and the dog owner did not have reasonable grounds to know about the rabies and could not, with reasonable effort, have prevented the injury.

In limited circumstances, there could be another defendant in your dog bite case. Specifically, a landlord who knew a dog could be vicious and allowed the dog to be in common areas of a property could be liable for your injuries in some cases.

How to Get a Fair Recovery

While the law is clear about liability, dog bite victims still need to take action if they’ve been hurt. Specifically, you should:

  • Pursue a claim. This may mean pursuing an insurance claim with the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company or pursuing a lawsuit. Some dog owners and insurance companies will not provide fair compensation unless they know that the dog bite victim is serious about pursuing a legal recovery.
  • Keep accurate documentation of all of the damage so that you can provide evidence to support your claim. This includes not only medical bills, but also lost wages, documentation of missed activities, evidence of emotional trauma, and any other losses or negative effects associated with the dog bite.

Dog bite injuries are common and the aftermath of the accident can be overwhelming. Please share this article on Facebook or Twitter and help inform your friends that there may be help available if they or their children are hurt by a dog in Iowa.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.