Bill would limit liability for trucking companies on noneconomic damages lawsuits

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 6:53 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Republicans in the Iowa Senate approved a bill limiting the liability for commercial vehicles, like trucks, in lawsuits earlier in February.

The Iowa House has still not voted on the bill as of Thursday, which would send it to Governor Kim Reynolds’ (R) desk. The bill would limit noneconomic damages like pain, suffering and loss of chance to $2 Million for all lawsuits related to commercial vehicles. The number would change based on inflation.

Kevin Kluesner, who is from Dubuque, said a truck driver from an Illinois backed up his truck and pinned Kluesner between a trailer and a pole. He said the truck continued to back up and crushed his pelvis and other serious injuries.

“I’m still dealing with the seizures and I think that’s the hard part,” Kluesner said. “They haven’t found a combination of drugs that would help that.”

According to court documents, Kluesner reached a settlement after years of litigation. His wife, Elaine, said most of the settlement went to the lawyer fees for the litigation. Both said they were frustrated a bill to limit damages is moving through the legislature.

“It makes no sense,” Kevin Kluesner said. “I can’t believe the right of a truck driver that does something wrong or makes a wrong decision is more important than the individual and how it affects their life.”

“It just really angers me because of what I had to see,” Elaine Kluesner said. “Sometimes I just think what is this world coming to is it all about money, not about people.”

The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies is lobbying for the change to pass the state legislature. Ross Lien, who is the Regional Vice President for the group, said the legislation will help lower inflation in an email.

“These nuclear verdicts in commercial motor vehicle cases are forcing Iowa consumers to pay higher prices for everyday goods and businesses to pay higher insurance costs,” he said in a written statement. “Capping noneconomic damages will help ease the rising costs of living and doing business in Iowa.”

The Iowa Motor Truck Association is also lobbying for the change, but didn’t respond to TV9′s request for comment. The Chairman of the group is State Senator Adrian Dickey (R-Jefferson), who didn’t respond to TV9′s or KYOU’s request for comment. However, he said on the senate floor the legislation is needed because premium prices are increasing for trucking companies.

Republicans have previously passed legislation, which would limit non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Gov. Reynolds signed the bill into the law in February.