Frequently Asked Questions
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Legal - Frequently Asked Questions
  • Legal, Legislative, & Regulatory
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: How do I file a claim?
        • A:  If you feel the City, or a City employee acting within the course and scope of his or her employment, has damaged your property or injured you, we encourage you to file a claim.
          Attach all relevant documents you have, such as bids, receipts, invoices, pictures and other supporting documents to the appropriate claim form.  See specific form claim sections for additional information that might be required for a specific claim type.
          For property damage claims relating to automobiles, please attach two separate estimates for the damages being claimed. For other property damage, please submit one estimate.  At times we may require an appraisal or other type of inspection of the property.
          The sooner you file a claim the more likely it is that all of the evidence will be easily gathered. 
           
          You can also get a claim form by calling the City Legal Department Litigation Division at (515) 283-4564. You may also call the City's Claims Adjuster at (515) 283-4565.

        • Automobile Claim for Damages
        • Miscellaneous Claims
        • Sewer Claim for Damages
      • Q: How many repair estimates do I submit?
        • A: For property damage claims relating to automobiles, please attach two separate estimates for the damages being claimed. For other property damage, please submit one estimate.  At times  we may require an appraisal or other type of inspection of the property.

      • Q: How long do I have to wait to get repairs done on a claim filed but not yet processed?
        • A: We prefer the City Adjuster inspect your damage first, but in cases of emergency, you can go ahead and have the repairs completed. However, you should take photographs of the damage before repairs are made in order to substantiate your claim. It is always easier for our Claims Adjuster to analyze the damage if he can see the damage before it is repaired. Please  remember that we will consider pre-loss condition in evaluating damage.

      • Q: How long do I have to file a claim?
        • A: You can file a claim whenever you want, but you should be aware that if your claim is denied and you wish to file a lawsuit (see below) that a statute of limitations will come into play.  You should consult an attorney as to the statute of limitations which might be applicable to your cause of action.  We can't give you that kind of legal advice.  The sooner you file a claim the more likely it is that all of the evidence will be easily gathered. 

      • Q: How can I get a copy of a City Ordinance?
        • A: You can also find a copy of the City Code at any City Library, or online at http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.aspx?productid=13242

          You can also view the City Code at the City Clerk's office on the 1st floor of City Hall, 400 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA. City Hall is just north of the Embassy Suites Hotel on the east side of the Des Moines river.

        • City Code
      • Q: How can I talk to a prosecutor about a crime I’ve been charged with?
        • A: The City prosecutes only municipal misdemeanors, including violations of the City Traffic Code committed inside the Des Moines City limits. If your court documents reference a Des Moines City ordinance, then you may call the City's Prosecutor at (515) 283-4532. If your court documents do not reference a Des Moines City ordinance, then you probably need to call the Polk County Attorney's Office at (515) 286-3737, or the prosecutor for the city where you received the ticket.

      • Q: How much will I get paid to appear as a witness in traffic court?
        • A: You will receive a witness fee of $5.00 plus 24 cents a mile. Any further questions involving witness fee payments are usually directed to the clerk in the Traffic Court Office at (515) 286-3920.

    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • Q: What happens after I file a claim?
        • A:  A short time after your claim is received the City's Claims Adjuster will be in touch with you. It may take four to six weeks for your claim to be fully resolved. This time allows us to do a full investigation and talk with all of the City departments and employees who may have knowledge or information concerning your claim. During the course of our investigation, the Claims Adjuster may visit you personally or call you for further questions.  Once the claims investigation has been completed, we will contact you regarding the outcome of our investigation.

      • Q: What should I attach to the claim form?
        • A: Attach all relevant documents you have, such as bids, receipts, invoices, pictures and other supporting documents for your claim.

      • Q: What do I do if my claim is denied?
        • A: If you do not agree with the City's resolution of your claim, you may file a lawsuit in a court of appropriate jurisdiction.

      • Q: What is the difference between the City Attorney and the County Attorney? 
        • A: The City Attorney and the City Attorney's office represent the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. The County Attorney and County Attorney's office represent the County and County employees. In addition, the Criminal Bureau of the County Attorney's office prosecutes all State crime violations in Polk County.

      • Q: What is the difference between the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney?
        • A: The Attorney General's office represents the State of Iowa and its employees and the many State agencies. The United States Attorney represents the United States and its employees and prosecutes criminal cases in the United States District Court.

      • Q: What is meant by the term “City ordinance”?
        • A: The City department charged with the day-to-day administration and enforcement of an ordinance can answer general questions regarding how the ordinances are applied by the City. If the department is unable to answer your question, it can refer you to the Legal Department with expertise in the particular area involved. While we can't give you legal advice, we will try to help any way we can. Search the City Code.

        • City Code
      • Q: What must I do if I receive a subpoena to appear as a witness in traffic court?
        • A: Please bring a copy of the subpoena with you to the Traffic Court Office. The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who can help me with legal advice regarding a problem with my landlord?
        • A: We're sorry, but no, in this instance we can't help you. The City Attorney's office represents the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. We can't represent private parties or give them legal advice. The Iowa State Bar Association oversees a lawyer referral service. Call (515) 280-7429, if you would like to use the lawyer referral service. You might also try the Legal id Society of Polk County at (515) 243-1193, or the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa at (515) 243-2151.

      • Q: Who can help me with legal advice regarding a problem with my neighbor?
        • A: We're sorry, but no, in this instance we can't help you. The City Attorney's office represents the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. We can't represent private parties or give them legal advice. The Iowa State Bar Association oversees a lawyer referral service. Call (515) 280-7429, if you would like to use the lawyer referral service. You might also try the Legal id Society of Polk County at (515) 243-1193, or the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa at (515) 243-2151.

      • Q: Who can help me with legal advice regarding a problem with my employer?
        • A: We're sorry, but no, in this instance we can't help you. The City Attorney's office represents the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. We can't represent private parties or give them legal advice. The Iowa State Bar Association oversees a lawyer referral service. Call (515) 280-7429, if you would like to use the lawyer referral service. You might also try the Legal id Society of Polk County at (515) 243-1193, or the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa at (515) 243-2151.

      • Q: Who can help me with legal advice regarding a problem with my spouse?
        • A: We're sorry, but no, in this instance we can't help you. The City Attorney's office represents the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. We can't represent private parties or give them legal advice. The Iowa State Bar Association oversees a lawyer referral service. Call (515) 280-7429, if you would like to use the lawyer referral service. You might also try the Legal id Society of Polk County at (515) 243-1193, or the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa at (515) 243-2151.

      • Q: Who can help me with legal advice regarding a problem with my ex-spouse?
        • A: We're sorry, but no, in this instance we can't help you. The City Attorney's office represents the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. We can't represent private parties or give them legal advice. The Iowa State Bar Association oversees a lawyer referral service. Call (515) 280-7429, if you would like to use the lawyer referral service. You might also try the Legal id Society of Polk County at (515) 243-1193, or the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa at (515) 243-2151.

      • Q: Who do I talk to about housing code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

      • Q: Who do I talk to about zoning code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

      • Q: Who do I call regarding landlord/tenant disputes?
        • A: The city plays no role in landlord/tenant disputes, but there is a program that might be able to help. Call Home Incorporated at (515) 243-1277.

      • Q: Who can I talk to regarding police misconduct?
        • A: Office of Professional Standards at (515) 283-4816.

    • Where, Where do I; Where can; Where . . .?
      • Q: Where do I go to appear in court on a traffic ticket charge or violation? 
        • A: The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

      • Q: Where do I go to pay a traffic ticket? 
        • A: The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

      • Q: Where do I go to appear on criminal charges? 
        • A: The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.