Last Updated: 2/8/2024
Beginning in 1862, the Iowa Legislature passed the first law which held dog owners liable for injuries caused by their dog. Since that time, the legislature has changed the law several times, but the current law provides that the owner of a dog "shall be liable to an injured party for all damages done by the dog...attacking or attempting to bite a person, except when the party damaged is doing an unlawful act" (for example a burglar breaking into a home is not allowed to recover if bitten by a dog). This is a lower standard than other personal injury cases where you have to prove negligence, recklessness, etc.
Everyday, I have people ask me questions and I can tell you that there are many myths and misconceptions about what you should do if you or a loved one are injured by a dog.
The first misconception is that the insurance adjuster is there to help you with your injury case. The insurance adjuster works for the dog owner and their insurance company and has no duty to protect your rights or even tell you what the law is. Just because you are reasonable with the insurance adjuster does not mean that the insurance adjuster will be reasonable with you. Remember, they are trained to pay you as little for your claim as possible. Sometimes this means intentionally frustrating you in hopes that you will give-up and go away. If you decide to try to handle your case on your own, it is important that you do not lose your temper or make threats to the insurance adjustor. If the adjuster makes a ridiculously low offer, it may be difficult not to show emotion. However, showing your emotions will never convince the carrier to offer more money. In the eyes of the adjuster, it means that you have a short temper which will certainly not help your case.
Another misconception is that you have to give the adjuster a recorded statement. Often when you have been injured the insurance adjuster will ask you to provide a recorded statement for their file. Sometimes, they will even tell you that you must give them a recorded statement before they will consider your claim. While this can be true if you are making a claim against your own insurance company, for example in a property damage claim, you are not legally required to give a statement to the insurance adjuster in a dog bite case. The reason that they want the recorded statement is so they can ask you questions before you are prepared to answer them. For example, the adjuster may ask you "Have you ever had back pain before?" Your immediate response is "No". Well, if you previously saw your family doctor or a chiropractor at sometime in your life and mentioned back pain this can create a real problem because your credibility is very important in the case. When answering a question like this most people are thinking "No, I have never had back pain like this before", but that is not the question asked. So a single wrong answer to a question that you are not prepared for or do not understand can cost you thousands of dollars in your case. It is rare that giving a recorded statement to the other party's insurance adjuster will help you and your claim.
Sometimes clients will come to see me after they have fired an attorney they found in the phone book who advertised as a personal injury attorney. Any Iowa attorney can advertise that they handle personal injury cases even though they may have never handled a single case. Iowa's personal injury laws are far too complex for someone without knowledge and experience to represent someone seriously injured. Only a qualified Iowa personal injury attorney can make sure that your rights are protected and that you are treated fairly in your case. Learn more about hiring an attorney for your dog bite claim.
Another thing to look for when searching for an attorney is what results they have obtained for their clients and what their past clients have to say. Don't take "all my cases are confidential" as an answer. Ask yourself do you want someone representing you with a proven track record or do you want to take a gamble on the attorney you chose. If an attorney has obtained good results for past clients and past clients have good things to say, then chances are they are qualified to represent you. Whether you live in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Iowa City, Ft. Dodge, Marshalltown or even outside of the state of Iowa, you should find an experienced dog bite attorney to help you.
A new FREE Book reveals: 8 Things to do if Bitten or Attacked · 6 Things to Know Before Signing Forms, Talking to the Insurance Adjustor or Hiring an Attorney and much, much more. For your copy of the "Iowa Consumer's Guide to Dog Bites - Insider Secrets to Not Get Bitten by Your Case" with no risk or obligation click here or by call 641-792-3595. The injury attorneys at our four offices in Des Moines, Newton, Ankeny or Marshalltown are all eager to assist you in obtaining the best results after your dog bite injury. Don't be an insurance company victim, CALL NOW.