When are punitive damages available in personal injury cases in Iowa?

Iowa City, IA – Damages are awarded in personal injury lawsuits to compensate the plaintiff for various losses such as the costs of medical treatment and their lost income and wages. However, in some cases additional damages are awarded to punish the defendant for some kind of reckless or malicious behavior. These kinds of damages that are meant as a form of punishment are considered punitive damages. For advice about whether punitive damages are applicable to any lawsuit, the victim should get in touch with their personal injury lawyer to ask specific questions.

Iowa law and punitive damages

Iowa law allows for punitive damages to be awarded, but this is only in very limited circumstances. As a practical matter, this analysis will not apply to most standard personal injury cases. The procedure to award punitive damages in Iowa consists of questions that need to be asked to the judge or jury that is given the task of finding a verdict. The first condition is whether the defendant acted with willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others. The burden of proof to meet this condition is a preponderance of clear, convincing, and satisfactory evidence. The amount of punitive damages is also conditioned on if the defendant’s actions were directed at the victim. If the plaintiff was not targeted, but hurt due to the defendant’s reckless behavior, then they are only awarded twenty five percent of the punitive damage amount. However, if the defendant did act directly to harm the plaintiff, then the full punitive damage award is given to the plaintiff.  

Other concerns

In order to get to this analysis of punitive damages, the negligence case that is filed by the plaintiff must reach the final stages of the trial. Many personal injury cases end with a settlement, which means that the plaintiff and defendant will agree on an amount that is comparable to what would probably be awarded if the case were to go to trial. 

Economic and non-economic damages

In cases where punitive damages are not available, which is the majority of injury lawsuits, the compensation will be related to economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are for things like medical bills and treatment, income issues caused by not being able to work, and projected future losses due to injuries and disabilities. Non-economic damages are related to things like physical pain, emotional suffering, and trauma.

Lawyers are available in Iowa City

Eells and Tronvold Law Offices is a firm that works with people in the Iowa City area to help solve their problems. Anyone who needs more information from a licensed attorney can contact their office to schedule a meeting. 

Firm contact info:

Eells and Tronvold Law Offices

1921 51st Street NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-2400



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