Transportation Law Update: Iowa Legislature Bill Proposes Limits on Commercial Motor Vehicle Liability and Damages

02.21.2022

The Iowa Legislature has recently proposed a bill that would limit liability for employee negligence in actions involving commercial motor vehicles and limit noneconomic damages recoverable against commercial motor vehicle owners or operators. The proposed bill would add Iowa Code section 668.12A and Iowa Code section 668.15A to the Iowa Code.

liability Limitation for Employee Negligence proposed in bill

As currently proposed, Iowa Code section 668.12A provides that if a commercial motor vehicle employer stipulates that the person who caused damages that are the subject of the lawsuit was the employer’s employee and was acting within the course and scope of employment with the employer, the employer will not be liable for direct negligence in hiring, training, supervising, or trusting the employee, or any other similar negligence claim. Instead, the employer will only be liable on the basis of respondeat superior. However, if the employer makes the stipulation outlined above and the employee’s negligence is found to have caused or contributed to causing the damages, the employer will be vicariously liable for the resulting damages.

Proposed Liability cap for noneconomic damages

As currently proposed, Iowa Code section 668.15A would cap the total amount recoverable in any civil action for noneconomic damages for personal injury or death against the owner or operator of a commercial motor vehicle at one million dollars, regardless of the number of derivative claims, theories of liability, or defendants in the action. Noneconomic damages are defined in the bill as damages arising from pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of chance, loss of consortium, or any other nonpecuniary damages. The proposed bill including the limitations on commercial motor vehicle employer liability and cap on noneconomic damages for commercial motor vehicle owners and operators has passed out of subcommittee and was introduced as House File 2279 on February 4, 2022. The bill has now been introduced and placed on the Senate calendar as Senate File 2275 as of February 15, 2022.

For more information on transportation law topics

Contact Zach Hermsen or Bryn Hazelwonder for more information about trucking and transportation matters at 515-288-6041 or hermsen@whitfieldlaw.com or hazelwonder@whitfieldlaw.com.

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