Medical Malpractice in Iowa

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Statute of Limitations: 2 Years

Discovery: 2 Year from Reasonable Discovery, but no more than 6 Years Total (excluding foreign objects left in the body)

Liability Rules: Modified Comparative Negligence/Contributory Negligence

Limits: $250,000 for non-economic damages, , except in the case of death or severe disfigurement

What You Should Know

Below we cover a general outline of what you need to know in the case of filing a medical malpractice in the state of Iowa. A medical malpractice or medical liability case is a civil claim filed by a patient in pain or who has been injured by cause of a physician or health care provider due to negligence or omission.

Statute of Limitations

The Statute of Limitations to file a medical malpractice case in Iowa is two years from the date of reasonable discovery. Before we get into any of the exceptions of filing a civil claim, let us first cover what must first be established or able to be proven in order to file a claim:

  • The physician or health care provider owed the given patient any ‘duty’. For example, further treatment, alternate care, guidance, etc.
  • The standard of care for the given illness or ailment failed to be met. Each surgery or treatment has a set of conditions, or standards, that must be met in order to be considered acceptable, or at the most basic level, complete.
  • There is a compensable injury. Unfortunately not all injuries are compensable. A worst case scenario for medical malpractice is fatality. However, if there are reconcilable damage to the patient that can be rectified to some degree, that will help in filing a claim.
  • Lastly, not only does it have to be proven that the standard of care was breached, but also that it was the cause of harm or damage to the patient. For example, if indeed a doctor did neglect the standard of care for a given treatment, but that was not the cause of harm or injury to the patient, it may not be enough to open a case.

Discovery Rule

The discovery rule is the rule that may extend the two year time limit to file a medical malpractice case depending on when you discovered your pain or injury. The discovery rule in Iowa allows you two years from the date in which you should have reasonably discovered your injury or pain due to medical malpractice, but no more than six years. In other words, you have two years from the date of the discovery of your injury, unless it exceeds four years after the date of your medical treatment or surgery.

In the event of a foreign object being found, the patient still has two years from the date of discovery, but no six-year limit. A foreign object is an object that was unintentionally left inside of a patient during surgery or treatment. This can range from something such as a surgical sponge to a pair of medical scissors.

Expert Opinion

In almost all states there needs to be an expert on the particular treatment that did not meet standard of care in order to prove so. In other words, there needs to be someone that specializes in the treatment that was neglected in some manner in order to prove that it was the fault of the treating physician or health care provider. The expert cannot simply be someone that is knowledgeable on the matter, though. They must be an active or practicing professional.

This third-party opinion and input is required so that it can be determined if the pain or harm is either solely at the fault of the treating physician or health care provider, or if it may be in some part due to negligence of the patient. The patient may be partially or fully at fault if they refused recommended pre- or post-treatment care, or if they were properly diagnosed and did nothing about it.

Damage Cap

Iowa has a $250,000 cap, or limit, on how much damage can be compensated in a medical malpractice claim for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are quality of life loss, anxiety, inability to work, loss of joy or ability to remain a part of their ‘normal’ community. Alternatively, if a patient dies, loses major functions of their body or becomes significantly disfigured, the cap is nulled and there is unlimited compensation available.


As you can see, there is a lot of information necessary to understand before even filing a medical malpractice case. It is, no doubt, a daunting endeavor; however, receiving just compensation or rectifying damage for the sake of you or your family’s health should be a top priority. It is best to seek an experienced team of attorneys to assist in filing a civil claim such as medical malpractice.

How Can We Help You?

If you or a loved one have been injured in the state of Iowa, contact us at 432.570.1919 or email us using the form below for your free, no-obligation consultation. The Buckingham Barrera Law Firm has helped thousands of people in multiple states get the compensation they deserve for their injuries.