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How Damages Are Distributed in Iowa Wrongful Death Cases

Sometimes it is easy to figure out who should recover damages in a wrongful death case. You would expect, for example that:

  • A spouse would recover for the wrongful death of a spouse.
  • Dependent children would recover for the wrongful death of a parent.
  • Parents would recover for the wrongful death of a dependent child.

But not all families include married spouses and their minor children.

What About the Rest of the Relatives?

The law can’t define love. You may have a sibling, an adult children, a partner or another relationship with someone whom you love as much as (or maybe even more than) those in your immediate family. That love does not end with death.

Yet Iowa law can define what certain relatives can recover. According to Iowa law:

  • Adult children may be able to recover damages.
  • Adopted children have the same rights as biological children.
  • Stepchildren do not currently have the right to recover damages.
  • An estate may not be established on behalf of an unborn child. However, the parents may be able to recover for their loss.
  • Parents of adult children may be able to recover damages. However, their rights are subordinate to the claims of their child’s spouse and children.

Regardless of who can recover damages in an Iowa wrongful death case, it is the personal representative of the estate who must file such a claim.

What Can Be Recovered Once a Claim Is Filed?

The damages that the estate and certain relatives may recover in an Iowa wrongful death case are determined by law. The specific amount of damages that may be awarded depends on the unique facts of the case, the quality of the evidence that is available to prove the damages, and the advocacy of the estate during negotiations or in court.

The types of damages that may be recoverable include:

  • Medical costs incurred because of the accident, from the time of the accident until the time of death.
  • Out-of-pocket costs, including funeral costs and other expenses made necessary by the accident or your loved one’s death.
  • Lost income from the time of the accident until what would have been your loved one’s reasonably anticipated retirement date.
  • Emotional suffering of your loved one prior to death and of you and your family because of your loss.
  • Punitive damages, under certain circumstances.

While this list of damages gives you a list of things to consider in a wrongful death lawsuit, it may not provide you with all of the information that you need about your individual claim.

Have Questions About Who Will Recover What After Your Loved One’s Death?

Each family and every wrongful death case are unique. Before you file a claim it is important to know how Iowa law will apply and what damages you and others in you loved one’s family may be able to receive. Accordingly, we encourage you to find out more about your rights by watching our FREE videos and we invite you to start a live chat with us now to have your individual questions answered.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham

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