A woman was driving on Iowa Highway 150 near Hazelton when she struck and killed a horse. This story reminded me of a previous blog I wrote on the Iowa Edict. It’s worth reposting so people know why you should hire a personal injury lawyer right after an accident between your car, truck or motorcycle and a cow, horse or other animal out on the public highway. So here is a repost of The Cow Jumped Over The Moon.
The Cow Jumped Over The Moon
My office mate and I recently litigated and successfully settled a cow-in-the-road case in southern Iowa. The facts are as simple as a black cow weighing 1,000 pounds out on a county road after dark where there are no lights doesn't show up in your headlights until it's too late to stop. In that case the driver's wife died. The driver was a family doctor and we thought that would help him in the community with farmers who admired his dedication to Iowa families. Think again. No one in the community came forward to admit ownership of the cow.
We thought proving ownership of the cow would be as easy as someone being honest and coming forward to admit ownership. But that's not how it's working in rural Iowa. Honesty about ownership is one concept you are not likely to find.
These are tough cases to prove as to who owned the cow. Ownership is extremely important and that means the lawyers need to be involved as quickly as possible.
Did law enforcement help? The Sheriff's are elected officials who look only so far probably not wanting to anger any of the locals. Not proving ownership in some ways gets them re elected. Law enforcement's paperwork on past instances where cows got out is in most instances, Sorry Charlie it's not available. The Sheriff's offices are little or no help.
Local knowledge washes away with the filing of a lawsuit. If there is no lawsuit every farmer will know who’s cows regularly get out onto the highway and who has lousy fences. File suit and it’s like you are on another planet. Everyone has amnesia. The locals go mute because they are for the most part deaf, dumb and half blind.
Does branding help? Not much. Many cows are identified by ear tags that all farmers use. The numbering system is antiquated, non-descript, confusing, non-sequential and intended to leave room for denying ownership – should that become convenient.
Yet everyone knows how many cows they own, where they are and I'm sure someone took a tax-write-off for a dead cow. Still no one is missing a cow.
What about tax write-offs for death and depreciation schedules? You'd be surprised how many floods rural Iowa has and how many farmers keep their tax returns in locations in the house that flood. File one of these suits and you'll soon see the flooding in Iowa’s farm basements is Biblical. Noah must be living in the basements of Iowa's farms.
Anytime you read of such a case and either know the family involved or the family comes to you for advice DO NOT SIT ON THE CASE. If you don't know what to do get someone involved that does and do it quickly. If you really don't understand the case law or proof problems refer the case and move on with your practice. Like I said the proof problems are extremely difficult and the paper trails are for the most part in the hands of farmers who don't give them up very easily.
I’ll bet if I was rustling cattle everyone would know whose cow it is that I stole. Moooooo...