In order to bring a successful negligence claim in Iowa, the plaintiff must prove that a duty existed on the part of the defendant, the defendant breached that duty, the defendant’s breach of duty caused injury, and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.
Iowa follows the Uniform Comparative Fault Act which is found within Iowa Code Chapter 668. The Act states that if the plaintiff’s fault is not more than the fault of all other parties combined, then the plaintiff is not barred from a monetary recovery. However, any award of damages will be diminished in proportion to the amount of fault attributable to the plaintiff.
For example, if the plaintiff’s fault is found to be 20% and the fault of all other parties is found to be 80%, then the plaintiff will be allowed to recover 80% of the total damage. If the plaintiff is found to be 50% at fault and all other parties combined are also found to be 50% at fault, then the plaintiff can recover 50% of the total damages. If, the plaintiff is found to be 60% at fault, and all other parties are found to be a combined 40% at fault, then plaintiff is barred from recovery.
Modified Joint & Several Liability
Generally, in a negligence action where there are multiple defendants who caused injury to the plaintiff, those defendants can be held jointly and severally liable to the plaintiff. This means that if the plaintiff is ultimately awarded damages, the damages may be collected from either one, or both, of the defendants.
However, under Iowa Code §668.4 joint and several liability only applies to defendants who are 50% or more at fault for an injury and are only jointly and severally liable for a plaintiff’s economic damages.
Per Reilly v. Anderson, 727 N.W.2d 102 (Iowa 2006), all defendants who acted in concert, aiding and abetting each other to cause the negligence, will be held jointly and severally liable, even if they are found by a court to be less than 50% at fault.
A defendant who pays more than their share based on the fault of all defendants is permitted to seek contribution against the other responsible tortfeasors.
Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
Compensatory damages can include both economic and non-economic damages. In Iowa, economic damages can include past, present and future medical care and treatment, loss of wages, or loss of future earning capacity. Non-economic damages include an award for pain and suffering, discomfort, loss of love, care, companionship, and enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff. In order to support an award of punitive damages, it must be proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with willful and wanton disregard for the rights or safety of the plaintiff.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Iowa. Should you have a question/concern specific to Iowa law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Iowa.