Generally, under Iowa law, we look at what is called fault or also known as negligence. Iowa has what is called comparative fault which means the fault of the parties involved in the accident are compared against each other. For example, if someone strikes you from behind while you are waiting at a red light, waiting for traffic, etc., then chances are that the other driver is 100% at fault. However, if you are driving down the road and another driver pulls out in front of you while you are speeding and/or looking at your cell phone, then you may be found 10%, 20% or more at fault for the car accident. The percentage of fault reduces your compensation by the percentage. So if your damages are $100 and you are found to be 20% at fault, then you will only receive 80% or in this case $80 of your $100 in damages.
The determination of fault is based upon what are called the Rules of the Road. In Iowa, these rules based upon the laws passed over the years by our legislature. These Rules of the Road include speed limits, duty to yield, following traffic devices, the requirement to wear a seatbelt, etc. We will discuss some very specific and common causes of Iowa car accidents and how fault is determined.
There is a rule of the road that requires you to maintain control of your vehicle in order to not strike other vehicles on the roads. If you are legally stopped waiting for a traffic light, stopped at a stop sign or otherwise following the law when you are struck from behind there is a good chance that the other driver will be found 100% at fault.
Failure to Obey Stop Signs or Traffic Lights
In our busy world where everyone seems to be in a rush at all times, people try to push the limits by running red lights and ignoring stop signs. Also, sometimes people are just not paying attention to the fact that they have an upcoming red light or stop sign. If the other party causes the car accident by failing to obey a traffic device then there is a good chance that they will be considered 100% at fault.
Failure to Yield in a Roadway
This is another common violation of the rules of the road. This most commonly happens when someone pulls directly into the path of a vehicle driving down the road. There will be a number of factors in determining fault including the presence of a stop sign, traffic light, or other signage; the speed of the vehicles; road conditions; use of electronic devices by the parties, etc.
Failure to Yield at Uncontrolled Intersection
The general rule is that you have to yield to the driver to your right. So, if you end up being struck by another vehicle in an uncontrolled intersection where the driver came from will be very important.
Failure to Use a Seatbelt
On March 25, 2018, Governor Reynolds signed a Republican-backed law which now reduces compensation to injured Iowans for not wearing a seatbelt when required. You can now be assessed up to 25% fault for not wearing a seatbelt even if the other is drunk and clearly at fault. Whether you agree that people who are seriously injured through no fault of their own should have their damages reduced by up to 25% or not, the best advice is to always wear your seatbelt.
Hit as a Pedestrian in Crosswalk
There are very specific legal requirements when it comes to the rights and duties of pedestrians. Generally, if you are a pedestrian who is struck in a crosswalk which is defined as either "Any portion of a road distinctly marked for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface; or the portion of the road connecting the sidewalks on either side of the intersection." While as a pedestrian you may rely upon the approaching driver's duty to yield, you still must exercise ordinary care including whenever possible walking on the right half of the crosswalk.
Hit as a Pedestrian in Other areas
If a pedestrian is crossing a road in an area other than what is defined as a crosswalk then the pedestrian has the duty to yield the right of way to all vehicles on the road. Further, if there is a marked crosswalk where the pedestrian is crossing the road they are required to walk within it. Also, if a pedestrian is walking along the side of a roadway, they are required to walk on or along the left side of the roadway as a violation of this law is negligence.
As a general rule, the rights and duties of bicycles are the same as other motor vehicles. There are unique features of crashes involving cars and bicycles. Often these occur when a car is trying to pass a bicycle and either does not see the bicycle or drives to close to the rider. One of the laws for nighttime riding is the requirement to have a white light on the front of the bicycle visible at least 300 feet and a red light on the rear of the bicycle visible at least 300 feet.
Similar to other motor vehicles and bicycles, motorcycles are required to follow the same rules of the road as others. There are unique factors involved in motorcycle accident cases which we have dealt with for more than 20 years. These can include the experience of the rider, the maneuverability of the specific motorcycle, if the rider properly applied the brakes in order to avoid the crash, possible fault assigned to the rider for not wearing a helmet, etc.
There are literally hundreds of different ways that vehicle accidents occur in Iowa each and every year. If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident in Iowa, then feel free to give us a call so we can discuss how we may be able to help you. There is no cost, risk or obligation, just call 641-792-3595.
If you are not ready to call an attorney or would just like additional information about Iowa car accidents, then you should request a copy of our new car accident book called “The Legal Insider’s Guide to Iowa Car Accidents- 7 Secrets to Not Wreck Your Case." To order your copy go to http://www.IowaCarAccidentBook.com or Call Now 1-800-707-2552 (ext. 710) (24 Hour Recorded Message). We offer our Iowa car accident book at no cost because we have seen too many hard-working Iowans hurt in car accidents who made mistakes which cost them thousands of dollars. Iowans hurt in car accidents are beginning to realize that the insurance company for the other driver is not there to help them and that they should learn about Iowa's car accident laws. Finally, there is a book about car accidents in Iowa that you can review in the comfort of your own home with no pressure. For immediate assistance call 641-792-3595.