Questions We Are Asked Each Week By Clients...
We are often asked questions like how much should the insurance company pay? How are my weekly benefits calculated?, etc. So we have put together some of the questions we here the most and the answers to them. We hope this helps you avoid making a mistake in your Iowa personal injury, car accident, dog bite, work injury or other injury matter.
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What happens if my damages exceed coverage in an insurance claim?
If your medical damages exceed coverage on a car insurance policy, the options available depend on two important factors. One is who caused the accident and the other is the terms of an auto insurance policy or other financial resources.
Options if Damages Exceed Coverage and You’re at Fault
The most important thing to determine after getting injured in an accident is who is at fault. If you caused the crash, it's your responsibility to take care of the medical bills. If you only carry liability coverage, it won't help cover your own damages. But if you have other types of car insurance coverage, it may cover your damages up to policy limits.
For instance, if you purchased medical payments coverage it will pay for those costs up to the limits of the policy. It's available no matter who was at fault for the accident. But any expenses that exceed policy limits will need to come out of your own pocket, or your health insurance may cover the costs. This may require you meet your deductible and make co-payments though.
Options if Damages Exceed Coverage and Another Party is at Fault
If the other driver was at fault for the crash, his or her liability insurance should cover the medical claims. Of course, that also depends on policy limits. The minimum amount required for bodily injury liability for one person is $20,000. So if that's what the other driver has for coverage and costs exceed that amount, you will need to consider other options.
For instance, if you purchased underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage, this helps pay for medical costs that exceed the liable driver's policy limits. Again, it's up to the amount of coverage you have available. Let's say the other driver's insurance covers $25,000 in medical claims but they total $30,000. Your UIM coverage will pay for the remaining $5,000. Your own health insurance coverage may also help.
Another option might be to file a lawsuit against the other driver to recover the full amount of your damages. This can be difficult in some cases if the at-fault driver does not have assets and resources to pay for the full extent of your damages. Talk to your attorney about the options that may be available.
Options for Damage Recovery When a Passenger is Injured
Motorists in the state of Iowa are mandated to carry a minimum of bodily injury liability (20,000/40,000) and property damage liability (15,000). However, liability only covers drivers and passengers who are injured in another vehicle.
If the driver of the car you’re in has medical payments coverage, it generally protects injured passengers. You also could be covered if the driver has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
When another driver is at fault, then you have the option to file a claim under his or her insurance. If the limits in the policy aren’t enough to cover all of your damages, then you may want to seek legal action against the driver.
As a passenger, if you have sustained serious, disabling or life-threatening car accident injuries, it’s important you fully understand your rights. Seek legal counsel immediately.
Talk to Lawyer if Medical Damages Exceed Car Insurance Coverage Limits
It's important to talk with an attorney if you’re facing substantial medical costs and not sure how to pay them. When someone else is at fault for your Des Moines accident, you need to make sure there's adequate evidence to prove liability; an attorney can help with this aspect of your case as well.
Of course, it's not just medical bills that cause concern for injured drivers. When the injuries are serious it could also result in weeks, months or even longer of missed time from work. This will increase the financial burden when unable to make a living. Also, you may qualify to recover other types of damages that address the physical and/or emotional losses.
Speak with a lawyer at Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Des Moines to learn more about your legal options and for help pursuing them. Call us at 888-435-9886 or contact us online to set up a consultation about your case.
Have the texting and driving laws made Iowa a safer place?
According to some groups, texting and driving laws have not made Iowa’s roads safer. It's one of the few states where it's a secondary law meaning that while it is illegal to text while driving, police can't stop a motorist unless another traffic violation has occurred. Read on to learn more texting and driving facts and about the current laws.
Why Texting Laws in Iowa Aren't Enough to Prevent Crashes
According to the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), there were 31 deaths that occurred between 2001 and 2013 as a result of distracted driving with a phone or other device. Three of those fatalities happened in 2013. Also, distracted driving has caused more than 8,500 accidents.
Of course, it's likely that other crashes (both fatal and non-fatal) have occurred because of distractions. Some aren't known and others aren't reported. In fact, law enforcement issued less than 50 tickets in 2013 for texting while driving, according to the Gazette via Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright. Yet officers see motorists texting behind the wheel all the time but cannot do anything about it because it’s a secondary law.
The DOT also reports texting and driving facts indicating that since passing of texting laws in July 2011, the number of crashes involving cell phones has gone up. Clearly, it hasn't been enough to stop drivers from engaging in these dangerous behaviors behind the wheel.
Efforts Sought to Crack Down on Distracted Drivers
In the first quarter of 2014, the Iowa Senate approved a bill that would crack down on distracted drivers. It would allow law enforcement to pull over and fine drivers using electronic communication. Original intentions were to target drivers caught texting. But it's widely recognized that engaging in any form of electronic communication (such as social media or email) is also dangerous when driving.
The bill further seeks to make this a primary law. This means drivers can receive a ticket without committing any other type of driving offense.
The only drivers Iowa has put restrictions on are teen drivers who some believe are more likely to text. They cannot text or use any type of electronic device while behind the wheel. But it's a problem that doesn't just affect young people.
What to Do When a Distracted Driver Causes a Crash
Understanding texting while driving facts and catching drivers texting or using a cell phone is one issue. What happens when these actions end up causing a crash? It's important to let the police know when responding to the scene of the accident that another motorist was texting. And if there were witnesses who saw the driver texting or talking on the phone, get their contact information. This will be helpful later on when filing a claim with the other driver's insurance company.
If the accident results in serious physical harm, it's important to seek medical attention. Be sure to gather your medical records and bills to help establish the extent and severity of your injuries, along with the costs. Keep track of missed time from work and other financial losses.
Finally, seek legal advice. An attorney can help prove fault by gathering the appropriate evidence. Legal counsel can also help determine the types of damages available. While you focus on healing and recovery, your attorney can deal with the insurance company.
Walker, Billingsley & Bair helps Des Moines accident victims pursue fair compensation for their injuries. Call us at 888-435-9886 or use our online contact form.
Is there a limit on how many procedures or surgeries workers’ compensation covers?
There is a limit to the number of procedures or surgeries allowed under workers’ compensation coverage. But it is not a hard-and-fast number -- it varies by the injury and what doctors recommend. A statute of limitations exists for how long a person can receive treatment for a workers’ comp accident. For example, chiropractor visits may be covered until the victim heals to the degree that he or she can return to work, even if it is at a diminished capacity. Workers’ comp wouldn’t cover continual chiropractor sessions after this point. So what does workers’ comp cover? Read on for comprehensive information on workers’ compensation coverage.
According to CityTownInfo.com, much of the Des Moines workforce performs manual labor, such as engine and other machine assembly, conveyor operation and tending, pipe laying, structural iron and steel working, structural metal fabricating and fitting, and bindery.
Regardless of your labor sector, getting hurt on the job is always a possibility. If you or someone you love has been hurt on the job, you may be wondering what workers’ comp covers. One of your biggest fears may be whether the company will pay for multiple procedures or surgeries needed to restore your health after a work-related injury.
Multiple Procedures or Surgeries and Workers’ Compensation
Each state varies in terms of workers’ compensation laws, procedures and payments. However, Iowa is like any other state in that proof is the key to getting workers’ compensation to pay for surgeries or procedures needed after an on-the-job-injury. Your employer’s insurance company will have to prove the validity of your claim using physicians of their choosing.
In fact, Iowaworkforce.org states that choosing your own doctor could affect the outcome of claims against your employer from on-the-job injuries. However, if a need for multiple surgeries or procedures is proven to the physician chosen by your employer’s insurance company, then workers’ compensation should pay for the procedure(s) in full. However, if your claim for multiple procedures or surgeries due to a work-related injury is denied, you may find yourself with limited hope and prospects for compensation.
Denial of Claims Involving Multiple Procedures or Surgeries
It is important to remember that not every claim you make to workers’ compensation will be accepted. Many people’s claims are denied. One Iowa woman shared her claim denial story with WorkersCompensationInsurance.com. A bitter battle with Iowa workers’ compensation and the woman’s employer has ensued over multiple surgeries needed on her arms due to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome requires multiple surgeries that have to be done in a timely manner to avoid lifelong, debilitating side effects. Because the cost of the surgeries she needed exceeded $100,000, the woman believes that her employer’s insurance company denied her claim. She continues to be embroiled in a legal battle to get the surgeries she needs to regain mobility in her arms, which she cannot afford without the aid of workers’ compensation. There are many myths about workers’ compensation. Check with a workman’s comp attorney for the final word on your personal situation.
Hope after a Denied Claim
As the Iowa woman found out, combating a denied workers’ compensation claim for multiple surgeries or treatments can take much of your remaining strength. It can be an emotional and physical struggle to get the medical treatment you deserve for your on-the-job injuries.
When injured Des Moines employees ask themselves, “What exactly does workers’ comp cover?” Walker, Billingsley and Bair answer. When you feel like you cannot fight the battle against a denied workers’ compensation claim alone, reach for the trusted advice of legal counsel. Attorneys at Walker, Billingsley and Bair can help you feel as if there is someone in your corner, willing and able to get coverage for the multiple procedures or surgeries needed to increase your quality of life. Contact us via our website today.
Can I get workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits for my work injury?
Many of Des Moines’ disabled citizens became disabled due to an on-the-job injury. If your disability has made it impossible to work, you may qualify for permanent workers’ compensation benefits or Social Security benefits. However, only one form of disability may not be enough to support your costly expenses. Although you may be entitled to both workers’ comp and disability insurance, you may not know how to go about getting them or when to file for workman’s comp in Iowa.
Receiving Both Workers’ Comp and Disability Insurance
You’ll be glad to know the Social Security Administration (SSA) reported that disability payments from private sources, such as private pension or insurance benefits, do not affect your Social Security disability benefits.
These benefits are:
- Veterans Administration benefits;
- state and local government benefits, if Social Security taxes were deducted from your earnings; or
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
However, collecting workers’ comp and disability insurance at the same time may reduce your Social Security benefits.
The SSA classifies workers’ compensation benefits as payments made to you because of a job-related injury or illness. If you already receive what the SSA classifies as workers’ compensation, your Social Security disability benefits may be affected. According to the SSA, “If you receive workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits and Social Security disability benefits, the total amount of these benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings before you became disabled.” Your average current earnings before becoming disabled are calculated by the SSA using various mathematical formulas.
Calculating Workers’ Comp and Disability Insurance Benefits
The SSA provides an example for calculating your worker’s comp and disability insurance benefits together. Imagine your average current earnings before becoming disabled was $4,000 per month. You, your spouse and your children would be eligible to receive $2,200 per month in Social Security disability benefits. However, if you also receive $2,000 per month from workers’ compensation, your family’s Social Security Benefits will be reduced by $1,000 per month because you would receive more than 80 percent of your average current earnings.
If there are changes to your workers’ compensation or other public benefits, let the SSA know and it will work with your to supplement the loss of income. For more information on the process of filing for Social Security disability benefits, visit the SSA website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call toll-free, 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call their TTY number: 1-800-325-0778).
Filing for Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits
Along with the pain you may be suffering, undergoing the filing and calculations processes for workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Benefits can be daunting. Many disability advocate websites, like DisabilitySecrets.com and DisabilityAdvisor.com, suggest seeking the advice of trusted legal counsel to better understand the benefits to which you may be entitled.
Although your workers’ compensation benefits may offset your Social Security disability benefits, they don't have to. Let the attorneys at Walker, Billingsley and Bair be your workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits activists: 641-792-3595.
Can a dog bite cause nerve damage?
Can a dog bite cause nerve damage? A dog bite can cause nerve damage. A dog's powerful jaws can injure not only nerves, but also tendons, muscles and bones.
Ways a Dog Bite Can Cause Nerve Damage
Neuropraxia is the least serious type of nerve damage because it stretches nerves but doesn't severe them. It can occur from crushing injuries caused by the bite or when an attack results in a dislocation or fracture. Recovery can take anywhere from a few hours to several months.
Axonotmesis is a serious injury that a dog bite can cause, damaging nerves and muscle and motor function. Recovery is much longer, from a few months to years.
Neurotmesis is the most severe type of injury a dog bite – it occurs when the nerve is severed. If it's a clean cut, it's sometimes possible to repair the nerve. One type of procedure involves regenerating the nerves. Recovery will still take time because it's a slow process. But in many circumstances the damage is irreparable. When function doesn't return, it can cause abnormal sensations or movements.
Signs of Nerve Damage after a Dog Bite
Motor nerves control actions and movements. They do this by passing information from the spinal cord and brain to the muscles.
Signs of motor nerve damage may include:
- fasciculation (twitching); and
- muscle atrophy (muscle wasting).
Sensory nerves affect sensation (such as pain). These nerves pass information from the muscles and skin to the brain and spinal cord.
Signs of sensory nerve damage may include:
- prickling/tingling; and
- difficulties with positional awareness.
How Nerve Damage May Impact a Dog Bite Claim
Nerve damage can occur to the face, hands or other body parts. It's possible that additional injuries occurred, such as fractures. Open wounds are at risk of infection, and a bite may cause disfigurement. These are all important considerations when determining the value of a dog bite claim.
Dog owner liability depends on state laws, so it's important to understand how that may affect a claim. In Iowa, it's fairly easy to hold an owner liable for damages. The only exception that may apply is if the victim acted unlawfully, and it contributed to the injury. Breaking into someone's home and getting attacked by the family's dog would qualify as acting unlawfully. It is likely that the owner will not want to part with his or her dog after the attack, so familiarize yourself with the common challenges of a dog bite claim in Des Moines and how to address them.
Recoverable damages include the medical costs to treat the injury. Nerve damage injuries may require surgery. If injuries are severe, cosmetic surgery may be needed to improve appearance.
Lost earnings are another form of compensation that may be available in a dog bite claim. This applies to any missed time from work while healing and recovering. It may even include anticipated earnings if the attack leaves the person disabled.
Nerve damage may allow for the recovery of damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life. Permanent scarring may allow for compensation for disfigurement. To better understand one's right to file a claim and the types of compensation to seek, contact a dog bite attorney at Walker, Billingsley and Bair. We handle dog bite cases -- just fill out our contact form for quick response.
How do I check workers' compensation claim status in Iowa?
If you're pursuing a workers' compensation claim in Des Moines, the best way to check on your workers' comp status is to contact your attorney, who will communicate with the workers' compensation insurer and even your employer or the Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation. Alternatively, if you don't have an attorney handling your case, you could contact the workers' compensation insurance company handling the claim. You may even be able to contact the Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation at 1000 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0209. The phone numbers are 515-281-5387 or (800) JOB-IOWA.
But keep in mind that it can take weeks or months to settle a workers' compensation case, particularly if there's a dispute over the worker's entitlement to benefits. Read on for more information about what might affect how long it takes to settle the case and what to do if you're having trouble getting updates on your workers' comp status.
What might delay the workers' compensation settlement process?
The short answer is disputes. If there's a dispute over whether your injury is work-related or the degree to which you're impaired, you may find yourself in a dispute with the workers' compensation insurer. This may require requesting an independent medical exam if you disagree with your impairment rating or exploring your options if you do not believe you are ready to return to work when your doctor – chosen by the insurance company – says you are able to do so.
If you find yourself in such cases, your settlement may take longer. It may require appealing a denied workers' comp claim with the Workers' Compensation Commissioner or taking other steps to get the benefits to which you are entitled.
What if my attorney won't provide me updates on my workers' comp status?
Your attorney should maintain open communication regarding your case. If you can't get through to your attorney's office or if your attorney never provides you with updates on your case, you may consider looking elsewhere for representation. If you haven't yet hired an attorney or if you're looking for a new attorney, make sure you understand how the firm handles communication. Ask if you will receive regular updates via telephone, email, etc., and if you can call for updates.
Do I need an attorney to help settle my workers' compensation case?
You may need a lawyer familiar with workers' compensation law who can communicate with the workers' compensation insurer and ensure you get the benefits to which you're entitled. This may be necessary especially if you suffered serious injuries or if the insurance company is not offering a fair settlement offer or is trying to deny that your injury or condition is work-related.
Talk to a lawyer at Walker, Billingsley & Bair at 888-435-9886 for a no-cost, confidential consultation. You also can contact us online to set up a consultation.
Do insurance investigators follow you in personal injury cases?
In some cases, yes. An insurance company or other interested party may follow you and videotape you in the hopes of proving you are exaggerating or misrepresenting your injury. This is legal and the insurance investigator is loyal to the insurance company, not to you. This person’s job is to prove whether or not your claim is legitimate.
What should I do if I suspect I am being followed?
Most people become nervous when they suspect an insurance investigator is following them. However, the key is to be yourself. You know that your injury is legitimate, so make sure that you follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. If the doctor said no heavy lifting, leave the groceries and garbage bins for a family member.
If you have been told to stay off your feet, keep your outside excursions to a minimum. It might be your nature to want to help around the house or play with the kids despite the pain and discomfort it causes, but don’t do anything you wouldn’t want the insurance company to see.
Can an insurance investigator videotape me inside my home?
An investigator may videotape your home if he stays on public property and you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if you’re standing in front of your living room window lifting weights with the blinds up, then it might not be reasonable to expect privacy.
In that case, anybody walking by the house could see you. But if an investigator finds a small crack in the blinds and starts videotaping you in the home, this could be a violation of your privacy. Also, an investigator may not install cameras in your home.
Will an investigator talk to my neighbors?
If an investigator is suspicious, he may try to speak with your neighbors. He may ask questions about taking out the trash or doing yard work. It might be a good move to talk to your neighbors and let them know what is going on with the lawsuit so they do not misspeak. For example, a neighbor may go on about a gorgeous fence you built not realizing it was erected prior to your injury.
What are some other methods of surveillance insurance companies use?
One relatively new form of insurance surveillance is simply checking your social media accounts. If you’re posting photos on Facebook of you skiing, describing a recent workout on Twitter, or posting pictures to Instagram that show you running in a recent 5K race, the insurance company might use these photos to discredit your claim and injuries.
Keep in mind that it may not be clear when pictures were taken and innocent comments may be misconstrued, so be very careful when using social media during your personal injury claim.
If you have been injured and would like to know what type of compensation to which you may be entitled, call Walker, Billingsley & Bair at 888-435-9886 to discuss your case. The confidential consultation is free.
Can I file a motorcycle accident claim if I did not have a valid motorcycle license?
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident in Des Moines and did not have a valid motorcycle license at the time, you may still file a motorcycle accident claim against the other driver. Not having a valid motorcycle license doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with fault in an accident and does not preclude you from filing a claim if the other driver caused the wreck.
While you might face penalties for operating a motorcycle without a license, filing a motorcycle accident claim should follow the same procedure as filing any other accident liability claim.
How do I establish that I’m not at fault?
Thankfully, Iowa is a modified comparative fault state. According to Iowa’s modified comparative fault law, each driver involved in an accident may recover damages unless he or she is more than 51 percent responsible for the accident. So even if you were unlicensed, if your motorcycle accident claim establishes the other driver was mostly responsible for the accident, you can recover damages.
Documentation of your motorcycle accident can help you prove fault, at the scene of the accident, you may have:
- taken photographs;
- collected witness testimony;
- jotted down witness contact information;
- made note of the other driver’s contact information; and/or
- gotten the name of the driver’s insurance company.
All of these items will come in handy when you file a claim against the other driver. Afterward, the first thing you must do when you are involved in a motorcycle accident is fill out an Iowa Accident Report if the accident resulted in death, personal injury, or total property damages of at least $1,500. If law enforcement investigated the accident, the report is not required. If you’re filling out the report, return it via mail to the Iowa Department of Transportation in Des Moines. Be sure to return the report within 72 hours.
Once you have filled out an Iowa Accident Report and mailed the report to the Iowa Department of Transportation, you should file an accident claim. To file the claim, contact the other driver’s insurance company and report the accident. You may then present the evidence mentioned above to establish that the other driver is to blame for the accident.
Will the insurance company blame me for the accident if I’m unlicensed?
However, like filing any type of claim, filing a motorcycle accident claim can be a tedious task whether or not you had a valid license at the time of the accident. The insurer may try to argue that you were at fault for the accident and may attempt to convince you that not having a valid motorcycle license is indicative of your fault. Thus, you must present convincing evidence that you are less than 51 percent at fault and that the other driver is actually to blame.
An attorney at Walker, Billingsley and Bair can provide you with legal counsel about filing a claim against the other driver involved in your motorcycle accident and can help you deal with insurance adjusters. Call us at 888-435-9886 to set up a consultation.
Can I file a dog bite lawsuit against a kennel or veterinary office if a dog at their facility attacked me?
Any veterinary office or kennel may be liable in a dog bite lawsuit if a dog attacked a third party at their facility. Veterinarians and kennel owners often protect their businesses by purchasing liability insurance for these cases.
However, just because a dog at a kennel or veterinary office attacked you does not mean the facility is automatically liable for injuries or damages. The vet’s or dog kennel’s negligence as well as Iowa dog bite laws play an important role in the outcome.
Liability for a Dog Bite in a Vet’s Office or Dog Kennel
The bite will not be the victim’s responsibility unless the victim did something to provoke the dog like pull its tail or otherwise torment it. Bite victims should explore Iowa dog bite laws and the circumstances of the bite to determine liability in a dog bite lawsuit for damages like medical bills or pain and suffering.
For instance, imagine someone else’s dog bit you at a vet office while it was in the care of a veterinarian. The dog’s owner and the vet could potentially be liable. The dog was in the care of the vet so the vet might be liable for damages, but the owner should communicate the dog’s temperament if he or she knows the dog’s temperament is malicious.
For example, if the owner of the dog that attacked a third party knew that the dog exhibited aggressive behavior before coming into the kennel or veterinary office, and the owner notified the kennel or veterinary office of the dog’s aggression, the victim may be able to prove that the kennel or veterinary office did not take precautions to protect its patrons from the dog.
Further, according to Iowa Code 351, an owner is strictly liable if his or her dog bites a person. However, a dog owner may not be strictly liable if the dog has rabies and the owner did not know at the time of the bite. If the owner knew the dog had rabies and could have reasonably prevented the bite, then the owner could be liable.
Discuss the Case with an Attorney Familiar with Des Moines Dog Bite Cases
So talk to an attorney about liability in these cases to get a better idea about which party or parties may be liable if another person’s dog bit or attacked you while at a dog kennel or vet’s office. Much will depend on the details of the dog bite, including responsibility for the dog and whether the dog kennel or vet was negligent.
Nevertheless, it may not be in your best interest to handle a dog bite lawsuit against a veterinary office or kennel without proper legal counsel like the attorneys at Walker, Billingsley and Bair. Filing a claim against a business like a vet’s office or a dog kennel can be a daunting task that requires legal knowledge.
Set up your appointment today by calling 888-435-9886 or use our online contact form to set up your consultation.
Can I file a complaint against a vicious dog even if it has never bitten anyone?
Yes, it's possible to file a dangerous dog complaint even if the dog hasn't bitten anyone yet. Des Moines follows a two-tier system for regulating vicious and dangerous dogs. If a dog is declared either vicious or dangerous, the city can take steps to protect the safety of its citizens.
Vicious dogs are defined under Sec. 18-41 of the Des Moines, IA Municipal Code as a dog that meets one of the following conditions:
- any dog which has attacked a human being or domestic animal without provocation;
- any dog with a tendency to attack, to cause injury or to endanger the safety of human beings or domestic animals;
- any dog that snaps or bites;
- any dog that has been trained for dog fighting or other animal fighting;
- any dog trained to attack humans, upon command or spontaneously in response to human activities, except police dogs;
- is one of the specified dog breeds: Staffordshire terrier, American pit bull terrier, or American Staffordshire terrier, or has the appearance of such a dog.
Under this definition, dogs that growl, bark, become rigid or otherwise appear threatening can be labeled vicious. Also, if a dog harms a person in ways other than biting, like knocking them down or clawing at their face, it can be declared vicious by the city.
Not every vicious dog is a hurtful dog, however. Perfectly docile pit bulls and Staffordshire terriers are preemptively labeled vicious by the city. Des Moines has decided in the law that these dogs have a predisposition to violence. If a dog is more violent, it can be labeled a dangerous dog.
To be declared dangerous under Sec. 18-196 of the Des Moines, IA Municipal Code, the dog must:
- bite or claw a person on two separate occasions within a 12-month period;
- bite or claw once causing injuries above the shoulders;
- could not be controlled or restrained by the owner at the time of the attack;
- attack any domestic animal or fowl on three or more separate occasions; or
- has killed any domestic animal while off of the owner's property.
Many of these conditions require the dog to seriously attack a person or animal on more than one occasion. Some of them include the dog inflicting grave injuries, like ones to the head, face and neck. So if a dog did not attack, you cannot have it declared dangerous.
How do I file the claim?
Des Moines contracts with the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Iowa to provide animal control and rescue services. To file the claim, call the ARL and describe the dog to them. They will investigate the claim and make a determination about the dog. The agency staffs three officers from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. 7 days a week.
To reach the ARL, you can call 515-243-4526 or 515-284-6905 during on-duty times. The emergency number for the agency is 515-283-4811 and can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What will happen to the dog?
Vicious dogs are subject to regulations by the city including a separate license, $100,000 liability insurance policy requirement, and special rules that keep the animal confined in a house, structure or on a leash.
Additionally, if the Chief Humane Officer doesn't believe in the reasonableness of the owner maintaining the dog, they can have the dog put down. Dangerous dogs are seized by the Chief Humane Officer after three days of the declaration and impounded for seven days or until seven days after an appeal upholds the declaration of the dog as dangerous. If the declaration is reversed on appeal, the owner will get the dog back.
If you'd like to learn more about dog bites, download Walker, Billingsley & Bair's dog bite eBook. You can also call our office at 888-435-9886 to speak about a dog bite lawsuit.