This is a picture of my two dogs and I at the Balltown overlook on a recent Sunday afternoon. The dog with the white head who is yawning is Bub, and the dog with the brown head that is panting is Moose. You can find another picture of Bub here where he helped illustrate a blog post about Iowa work comp cases involving intoxication.

I think it would be very hard to get Bub to bite you. Moose is also a very nice dog. However, she got the name Moose because she became the leader of all of her litter mates, and she was actually one of the smaller dogs in the litter. (Moose and Bub are siblings, and Bub has been taking orders from Moose for every day of his 8 ½ years on this Earth). Moose is also fairly territorial. I think there is a small chance that Moose would bite a person if she felt she was in danger.

There are plenty of dogs like Moose that will bite a person if circumstances come together in the wrong way. Additionally, if some dogs are around small children with food, the dogs will bite the children as part of trying to get the food away from the children. Unfortunately, in these situations children frequently get bitten in the face. I never leave my dogs unattended for even a moment around small children with food.

When people who have been in car accidents or injured in other ways come to see me they are understandably interested in finding out what types of damages or money they are entitled to receive as a result of their injuries. Today I am going to give an overview of the categories of damages that an injured person can recover under Iowa law.

PROPERTY DAMAGE. Many of the cases that I deal with involve motor vehicle accidents. If your car is damaged in an accident you are entitled to receive the reasonable cost to repair your vehicle as long as the cost of repair does not exceed the reasonable market value of your vehicle.

If the cost of repairing your vehicle would be more than the reasonable value of your vehicle, then you are only entitled to receive the reasonable market value of your automobile.

The jury is given a great deal of discretion under Iowa law in determining how to divide the fault between all of the parties in a car accident case or other personal injury claim. See here for my blog post of August 8, 2013 for an explanation of the importance of comparative fault and how it effects how much an injured party can recover.

A jury is generally instructed by the Court to assess comparative fault in language along the following lines:

“Damages may be the fault of more than one person. In comparing fault, you should consider all of the surrounding circumstances as shown by the evidence, together with the conduct of the parties and the extent of the causal relation between their conduct and the damage claimed. You should then determine what percentage, if any, each party’s fault contributed to the damages.” This jury instruction is based on Iowa Code Section 668.3(3) which can be seen here.

In many Iowa personal injury cases one party is clearly completely at fault for the accident, and in such situations the party at fault is required to pay all of the damages of the injured parties. However, in many cases both sides can have some responsibility for the resulting damages. For example, in a car accident case one party may have been traveling too fast, and the other party may have failed to yield the right of way.

Iowa has a comparative fault system to deal with these situations. In the Iowa system the jury is given written instructions on how to assess responsibility for an accident, and the jury is required to divide 100% of the available fault among each party who may have contributed to the final damages.

This apportionment of fault has many significant consequences. First, the percentage of fault assigned to a defendant determines how much of the total damages the defendant is required to pay. Second, the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff lowers the percentage of damages that the plaintiff can recover, and at a certain point bars the plaintiff from collecting any damages.