Iowa Personal Injury Law
Statutes of Limitations: The amount of time you have to sue whoever caused your injury or damage.
- Personal Injury – 2 years from when you discover the injury
- Damage to Personal Property – 5 years
- Medical Malpractice – 2 years from the date of the injury or when the injury was discovered but, not more than 6 years after the date of the injury
- Legal Malpractice – 2 years
- Other Professional Malpractice – 2 years
Where to Sue:
- Personal injury claims under $5,000 - Iowa Small Claims Court (a division of Iowa District Court)
- Personal injury claims over $5,000 - Iowa District Court
How to Sue:
Small Claims Court:
- Forms: Civil Cover Sheet, Complaint and Summons. The Iowa small claims division clerk in the District Court where you intend to file can give you more information and help you fill out the necessary forms.
- Where to file: You may file your personal injury claim in the Small Claims Court in the district where the defendant lives or where you were injured.
- How to notify the defendant (service): Mail the service of process to the defendant by certified mail, return receipt requested, or request that a sheriff, peace officer or disinterested adult personally deliver the papers to the defendant.
- Proving the defendant was notified: The person serving process must endorse and promptly, or within 20 days, file a return of service with the clerk of the small claims division of the Iowa District Court where you intend to file.
- Attorneys: You may have a lawyer in an Iowa Small Claims Court.
- Appealing a small claim: A defendant or a plaintiff may appeal the decision of an Iowa Small Claims Court to an Iowa District Court within 20 days of the original judgment.
Iowa District Court: If you intend to file a personal injury lawsuit in Iowa, contact an Iowa personal injury lawyer about your case. Filing your own personal injury case can be confusing and complicated. If you make errors there can be consequences, such as the court dropping your case.
- Forms: Civil Cover Sheet; Summons; Complaint. These forms can be obtained from the Iowa District Court where you intend to file, or online at the appropriate district court's website.
- How to File: File the Civil Cover Sheet, Summons and Complaint with the Iowa District Court Clerk in the appropriate district, and pay the filing fee.
- How to Notify the Defendant: Have a sheriff, peace officer or disinterested adult give the papers to the defendant after the filing fee has been paid and the clerk of the Iowa District Court has stamped the forms; or, mail the service of process to the defendant via certified mail return receipt requested.
What to Do if You Are Being Sued:
- Time to respond to a Summons in Iowa: 20 days.
- Because the intricacies of a court case can be difficult to work out on your own, legal representation is beneficial.
- Notify your insurance company of the incident so the insurance company can determine whether your insurance policy covers the plaintiff's injury and whether a lawyer should be given to you.
What to Do if a Judgment Was Entered Against You:
Failing to respond to service of process in Iowa will cause the court to enter a default judgment against you. In essence, this means that the court is ruling in favor of the plaintiff and you will automatically be required to pay the amount the plaintiff demanded in his complaint. For help in setting aside a default judgment, it is advised that you get professional representation and advice.
- Time to Set Aside a Judgment in Iowa:
- An Iowa court will set aside a default judgment for good cause shown, mistake, inadvertence, surprise, unavoidable casualty, or excusable neglect not more than 60 days after entry of the default judgment
Ways to Collect Your Judgment:
- Winning your Iowa personal injury lawsuit is just the first step. You must then collect your judgment. If the defendant refuses to pay, you may file for a Writ of Garnishment of a Writ of Attachment to collect the judgment from the debtor's bank account, wages, or property. An Iowa debt collection attorney can help you take the necessary steps to collect your money.