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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Understanding Damage Caps in Iowa

When filing a personal injury claim, obtaining compensation can seem like obtaining a bonus or payout at a casino. However, it's important to remember that there are certain damage caps that apply in the state that limit the amounts that victims may pursue in personal injury cases.


Earlier this year, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a new bill that limits the non-economic damages that victims may claim in medical malpractice cases. It's important to understand the damage caps that exist for other types of claims as well.


This article will take a closer look at the limitations placed on various personal injury cases. Tom Fowler Law has more information on what a personal injury claim in Iowa is.


Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits


In February this year, a new legislature was passed that aimed to make it easier for medical providers to practice medicine in Iowa. The state has a particularly bad reputation for medical malpractice claims, and by limiting the noneconomic damages that a victim may claim, the state aims to make Iowa a better place for the staff of hospitals and medical clinics.


The new Iowa legislature caps non-economic damages granted by the court when a hospital is involved at $2 million and caps non-economic medical malpractice damages granted against clinics at $1 million.


There are currently no caps on economic and punitive damages for willful and wanton disregard in medical malpractice cases. Victims are now also able to retain 100 percent of the punitive damages they are awarded, following the introduction of the new Iowa law rather than having to give 75 percent to the state.


In 2017, the legislature imposed a $250,000 "soft" restriction on non-monetary damages for medical negligence but permitted juries to grant unlimited damages in circumstances involving substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a physical capability, significant deformity, or death. The new law limits noneconomic damages for medical error to $2 million or $1 million.


Why Have Pain and Suffering Damages Been Reduced?


Most people believe that they should be able to recover the maximum compensation for their medical injuries. However, it's important to understand the repercussions of high damages on the healthcare system.


Million-dollar settlements may compensate residents for their pain and suffering, but they also raise the amount that all Iowans pay for healthcare. These medical malpractice lawsuits are often the reason why most medical students leave the state and put clinics out of business.


High settlements for medical mistakes also drive healthcare provider specialists away from the state, which can affect health care access and the quality of care that the residents of Iowa receive.


However, many have criticized the law, saying that it has shown little regard for patient safety and has instead granted insurance companies the right to save money.


Do Other States Enforce Damage Caps?


The truth is that damage caps on medical malpractice lawsuits are nothing new. Many states in the US, including some of Iowa's neighbors, impose caps on non-economic damages in these cases.


South Dakota caps non-monetary losses in medical malpractice lawsuits at $500,000, while Wisconsin caps them at $750,000 per incident, and Missouri follows suit. Total damages in Nebraska are limited to $2.25 million.


Non-economic damages in minor medical negligence actions in Iowa were already limited to $250,000 if victims did not suffer permanent disabilities or death.


Motor Accident Damage Caps


Statistics show that car accidents are one of the leading causes of concern among Iowans. In fact, according to 2018 data from the Iowa Department of Transportation, there was a crash every 9.8 minutes in the state.


Moreover, in 2020, 72 percent of large trucks were involved in commercial motor vehicle accidents. Iowa is among the states with an "at-fault" system for handling insurance claims. A motorist must demonstrate that the other driver was at fault in order to make a successful claim.


Like many other states, Iowa employs a "modified comparative negligence" system. This means that in order to receive recompense for vehicle accident injuries, the claimant must demonstrate that the other person was at fault for the accident.


If the matter proceeds to trial, the jury or judge will assign fault in terms of percentages. If a claimant has a fault of 50 percent or more, he or she will be disqualified from receiving compensation. Moreover, the degree of fault is also taken into consideration when determining the amount that a victim may be awarded.


This means that a person who is assigned a fault of 20 percent will only be allowed to recover 80 percent of his or her damages when filing a lawsuit.


The big question is, "Are there damage caps on motor vehicle accident cases?" The answer is no. Iowa has not placed any restrictions on the amount that victims may recover in an accident case.


What About Other Personal Injury Cases?

What About Other Personal Injury Cases?


Like motor vehicle accident cases, Iowa legislature does not place a cap on damages for personal injury claims outside of medical malpractice. This means that the amount recovered will depend on the sum of the economic damages, in addition to the non-economic damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and more.


Pursuing Compensation in Iowa


The truth is that navigating a personal injury claim can be a daunting experience. However, with mounting medical bills, it's important not to waste time when pursuing compensation. Finding a reliable injury attorney in Des Moines who knows what they are doing is essential.


This can be the difference between winning and losing a case, so it's important not to settle for anything less than the best. Tom Fowler Law is a reputable law firm that is dedicated to helping victims obtain the maximum compensation for their injuries.


With many years of experience and an excellent track record of successfully securing settlements for victims in Iowa, claimants can rest assured that they will have their best shot at obtaining compensation.


The experienced legal team can help victims understand the relevant damage caps in Iowa and successfully recover the maximum compensation for their injuries.

To obtain expert advice and professional legal aid, victims can contact Tom Fowler Law to schedule a free consultation.

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