A bill that would expand liability protections for trucking companies is making its way through the Iowa legislature again. These protections would impact how cases, where employees cause injury, death, or other damages while on the job, are handled.

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House Study Bill 114 would put a $1 million cap on noneconomic damages against trucking companies in civil cases dealing with personal injury or death. These damages include instances of “pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of consortium of a spouse or similar claims.”

The bill was proposed by the Iowa Motor Truck Association. David Scott, a lobbyist for the organization, told Radio Iowa that delivery trucks, construction vehicles, pickups, and semis owned by businesses would be covered by the bill.

We brought this bill forward in the hopes to bring some fairness to nuclear verdicts around the country of $50 (million), $60 (million), and $90 million dollars. The legislation provides a degree of predictability to all 804,000 commercial vehicles in Iowa.

The bill would also exempt businesses from paying damages in cases where the employee was found negligent in trucking accidents. The employer would have to acknowledge the driver was an employee and acting in the scope of their employment to receive some exemption from liability.

Story County Sheriff's Office via Facebook
Story County Sheriff's Office via Facebook

The employer would still be liable for economic damages which include medical bills, loss of wages, and property damage.

Kellie Paschke, a lobbyist for the Iowa Association for Justice who represents trial lawyers says this bill protects bad actors who fail to maintain the vehicles or push employee limits.

These are decisions that are made by employers, not employees, and what this bill does is make the employees the scapegoat for the employers’ bad decisions.

Attorney organizations argue that there have been no “nuclear” verdicts in Iowa. Lawmakers against the bill also argue that it will take away the right to a jury.

In 2022, a similar bill was proposed, however, it died on the floor of the Iowa House.

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