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What is a Tort Case, and What does it Involve in Iowa?

Tort cases are civil filings seeking remedy for personal injury and foreseeable loss in Iowa. Most tort cases involve individuals filing a claim against a state agency or public official, but one may file a personal injury claim against another person. All tort cases in Iowa begin at the State Appeal Board and only go to the Iowa judiciary when the claimant has exhausted administrative options. As required by law, court officials keep court records of these cases, which are available to the public upon request.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the document or person involved

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What is Iowa Tort Law?

Iowa tort law refers to the statutes and body of common law that address tort claims in the state. Iowa Code § 669 embodies the majority of the tort law, but the judiciary draws from other chapters of the Iowa Code.

What Kinds of Cases are Covered by Tort Law in Iowa?

The following are the kinds of cases filed under Iowa tort law:

  • Intentional torts: This kind of tort case covers all personal injury or losses resulting from an intentional act. Here, the tortfeasor is aware of his/her statutory civil duties but chooses to ignore them. Common examples include battery and assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of physical and emotional distress.
  • Negligence: Every private and public entity in Iowa has a statutory duty to exercise care and prevent damage to person and property under specific circumstances. Negligence, a breach of this duty, results in personal injury or loss. Examples of negligence include negligent misrepresentation, negligent infliction of emotional distress on a bystander, and negligent entrustment.
  • Strict liability: This kind of tort case involves where the tortfeasor was not negligent and did not intend to harm the claimant. It is bearing responsibility by proxy. Examples include injury or loss caused by wild animals and pets (Iowa Code § 351.28).
  • Product liability: Manufacturers have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that all products are factory fit and will not harm the end-users. Tort claims arise from manufacturing defects, warning defects, and design flaws.
  • Medical treatment torts: The common claims that arise here include failure to obtain informed consent and medical malpractice.
  • Invasions of privacy: The common claims that arise include intentional intrusion and impersonation.

Suffice to say that these tort claims overlap, and it is common to file a tort claim based on one or more of the aforementioned causes.

What are the Differences Between Criminal Law and Tort Law in Iowa?

Iowa criminal law and tort law differ in several ways. For one, criminal law imposes punitive sanctions on a person who committed a crime against the state. The victim of the crimes does not receive compensation when the court adjudicates the defendant guilty (Iowa Criminal Code).. To obtain monetary damages, the victim must file a separate civil action against the defendant. In such cases, the outcome of the criminal trial and tort claim is mutually exclusive. Furthermore, criminal law assigns guilt to an offender, but tort law does not. Instead, the tortfeasor is said to bear responsibility for the personal injury and losses inflicted (Iowa Code § 669.2)..

What is the Purpose of Tort Law in Iowa?

Iowa tort law ensures that residents are aware of statutory duties to other persons. It also prevents the chronicity of unsafe practices and actions by public and private entities, ensures that the parties involved bear responsibility equitably, and the claimant receives adequate compensation.

What is a Tort Claim in Iowa?

A tort claim is a civil notification of injury or loss and demand for compensation. Tort claim call for monetary compensation due to loss or damage to property, personal injury due to the negligence, wrongful act, or omission of a public employee acting within the scope of official duties (Iowa Code § 669.2(3)).

How Do You File a Tort Claim in Iowa?

All tort claims against a public employee or agency go to the State Appeal Board (SAB). The individual must complete a claim form and affidavit, make and notarize triplicate copies before submitting the claim to the SAB. The Board shall record the tort claim into a database and send an acknowledgment letter to the claimant. Then, the claim proceeds to the Attorney General’s Office and other appropriate government agencies for investigation. Upon reviewing the tort claim, the Attorney General’s office shall recommend payment, denial, or dismissal. The Board members shall subject the recommendation to further review, after which the claimant shall receive notification of the final decision. The entire process takes at least one month from the date of submitting the claim.

What Does a Tort Claim Contain in Iowa?

The claim form contains the information required of the claimant. Generally, the claimant must provide:

  • The name and address of the claimant;
  • Contact information and social security number;
  • Name of the state agency involved
  • Location of the injury;
  • Date and time of the injury;
  • Basis of injury;
  • Amount of damages sought.

What Happens after a Tort Claim is Filed in Iowa?

If the State Appeals Board approves the claim, the Attorney General’s office shall make provisions to make payment and notify the claimant of any additional requirements, such as a written release. If the individual wishes to contest a denial, they must make a civil filing in a district court in the county of residence or where the tort occurred (Iowa Code § 669.4)..

The case shall follow the Iowa rules of civil procedure. Upon filing a suit, the claimant must serve the attorney general or authorized designee with an original notice. The state must respond within thirty days. The Attorney General or authorized designee can negotiate a compromise and out-of-court settlement with the claimant before trial (Iowa Code § 669.9).. The timeframe of adjudicating a claim in the district court is 90—180 days, but this may take longer depending on the case complexity.

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Tort Claim?

Getting a lawyer depends on the circumstances surrounding the claim and the complexity of the case. A self-represented claimant armed with the right information can accomplish the same objective, but tort claims in Iowa are not always straightforward. A tort claim becomes convoluted when the State Appeals Board rejects the demand, and the claimant wishes to contest the decision. The provisions of the Iowa tort law changes with time, and a self-represented claimant may be unaware of the full extent of his/her legal rights. Thus, having an experienced personal injury lawyer ensures the best outcome of a claim action.

How Can I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me?

The Iowa State Bar Associate provides lawyer referral services and self-help tools. Interested persons may also call (515) 243–3179 or send an email to

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