Livestock Liability

In a state like Iowa, where the economy is largely built on agriculture, large livestock farms and grazing animals are everyday scenery.  With the miles of fence and dilapidated buildings often housing livestock, it is not uncommon for hogs, cattle, sheep, or horses to get out of their enclosures.  Regrettably, these animals sometimes wander onto roads or private property and can cause serious personal and property damage.  

Owners of animals who escape their confines can be held liable to people who have been injured or have had their property damaged by loose livestock.  

Under Iowa law, a livestock owner is liable to the following persons:

1. To a landowner for damages caused by the livestock owner's livestock which have trespassed on the landowner's land, including but not limited to property damage and costs incurred by the landowner's custody of the livestock including maintenance costs. 

2. To a landowner who takes custody of livestock on a public road for costs incurred by the landowner in taking custody of the livestock, including maintenance costs.

3. To a local authority (i.e. law enforcement or animal control) which takes custody of livestock for costs incurred by the local authority in taking custody of the livestock, including maintenance costs.

Iowa law does not require that animals be fenced in.  It does require, however, that owners of livestock owe a duty of care to ensure that their livestock does not cause property damage or personal injury.  When a livestock owner is negligent in supervising their animals or in maintaining their pens or enclosures, Iowa law permits a person who has suffered an injury to themselves, their land, or their property to recover damages.  

There is one small exception to the rule that imposes liability upon livestock owners.  In Iowa, owners of adjoining tracts of land must maintain a partition fence between the two tracts of land if either owner makes a written request upon the other owner to do so.  If either own requests a fence, both parties must contribute to the building and maintenance of the fence.  If an owner of land fails to help pay for the fence or help maintain it, and the other land owner’s animals get onto his land, he cannot recover from the livestock owner for damage to his property because he did not fulfill his duty to help maintain the fence.

If you, your vehicle, your land, or your property has been damaged or injured by loose livestock due to the negligence of a livestock owner, contact the experienced attorneys at GRL Law to see if you are entitled to recover.      

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