Iowa Nursing Home Abuse Laws

Iowa Damage Caps on Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases

Many states limit or “cap” the amount of damages that can be awarded by a judge or jury for harm caused by tortious or negligent conduct. In some states, legislatures have limited the amount of non-economic or “pain and suffering” damages. Other states cap damages only in certain kinds of cases, such as lawsuits for medical malpractice or wrongful death.

The state of Iowa currently does not cap damages awarded in personal injury cases, including medical malpractice or wrongful death. In Iowa, a spouse, child, or parent is entitled to recover compensatory and punitive damages in a wrongful death action. The recoverable losses include pecuniary losses, services, support, physician’s services and hospital expenses and loss of enjoyment of life.

Iowa farm field rural

The Statute of Limitations and Contingency Fees

The statute of limitations is a deadline for filing a lawsuit. Generally, once the statute of limitations on a case expires the legal claim is no longer valid. In Iowa, the statute of limitations on personal injury and wrongful death actions is 2 years.

A contingent fee is a contractual agreement in which an attorney represents a client, and instead of billing hourly, the attorney is compensated by a percentage of the amount recovered. In Iowa, ethical rules requires that an attorney’s contingent fee be reasonable. The amount of the contingent fee varies from firm to firm and may increase based upon the risk and nature of the case.

Enforcement of Nursing Home Residents’ Rights

In Iowa, residents’ rights are guaranteed by the “OBRA” which is also known as the Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987. The law requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident.” In particular, it places emphasis on a resident’s right to proper medical care, individual dignity and self-determination. In order to receive federal funding from Medicaid or Medicare, nursing homes must meet residents’ rights requirements contained in OBRA, which include the following:

  • The right to proper medical and personal care. Nursing home residents have the right to receive adequate and appropriate care, treatment and services provided by the facility. The right right to participate in any decisions about treatment, including the right to refuse medication and treatment.
  • The right to be treated with consideration, dignity and respect. This includes the right to make personal decisions.
  • The right to privacy and confidentiality in their treatment and personal care. Residents have the right to privacy with their spouse and to meet (or not meet) with people of their choosing. Medical records and treatment must be kept confidential unless allowed by the resident or guardian.
  • The right to be free from abuse, involuntary seclusion and physical and chemical restraints.
  • The right to possess and use their personal property.
  • The right to manage their own finances or request that the facility manage their finances for them.
  • The rights of US citizenship. They can vote vote, exercise religious freedoms and associate with whomever they choose.
  • The right to be informed of the facility rules and regulations including a list of available services and the costs for services provided.
  • The right to not be discharged without timely and proper notification to both the resident and the family or guardian.
  • The right to file complaints and grievances without fear of reprisal from nursing home staff or administration. The facility must make timely efforts by the facility to resolve those grievances.
  • The right to file a complaint with the Ombudsman and/or the state survey and certification agency.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals is the designated state survey and certification agency. It is responsible for inspecting, licensing and certifying health care providers which include residential care facilities and skilled nursing facilities.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.  The legal statutes, laws and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

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