Bill would cap how much families can sue in truck crashes
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – “There is no other area of law in Iowa where there is such a limit; it’s an exclusion for the trucking industry,” said Semelroth of RSH Legal.
A bill in the Iowa Senate would limit how much truck crash victims could get in court. A change that would benefit the trucking industry. The bill was rejected on Wednesday but could be reinstated. A grieving family said the bill made it worse for other families going through similar situations.
Dan Heeren loaded trucks at the company formerly known as Dupont in Cedar Rapids. He was working when a tractor-trailer hit him and killed him.
“I still can’t get used to the idea today,” said Bo Heeren, Dan’s son.
Bo was one of four children left without a father in 2017 after the accident. That day they lost a father, a husband and a role model.
“He was the best dad you could ever ask for,” he said. “He would do anything for anyone.”
The semiconductor survived and was found responsible for the accident. The family sued and the company settled with them last month. If the bill under consideration had been law, the family would have received a fraction of the settlement; $150,000 per family member. The total cap per victim in a crash where the driver is at fault, $1 million.
“Typically, a jury would receive millions of dollars for a lifetime of care, treatment and loss of function,” Semelroth said.
Semelroth represents plaintiffs in wrongful death cases. While his industry stands to lose with this type of tort reform, he said the protection it offers trucking companies is unfair to victims.
“It’s not like they’re offering a cap if one of us makes a mistake and seriously injures or kills someone,” he said. “This is specific legislation to remove responsibility from a single industry.”
Taking responsibility for the loss of someone who meant so much.
“I don’t think you should ever put a dollar on a life,” Heeren said.
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