Last Updated: 2/16/2023

Left turn car accidents can be some of the most serious car crashes that we see.  Often the force of the impact is localized to the passenger side of the car where hopefully someone is not sitting.  Other times, the force of the impact will send the turning vehicle skidding and sometimes flipping.  There are many factors to determine who is a fault for a left turn car accident sometimes called Rules of the Road.  The determination of fault is also referred to as determining who is liable for the collision or a liability determination. 

Traffic Controls

The first thing would be what if any traffic controls were in the area.  If you are waiting to turn left across traffic and have a green arrow, then it is most likely the other driver's fault.  However, if you have a blinking yellow or red light when you turn, you may be found at fault.  One of the most difficult fault determinations to make is when a driver is in the middle of the intersection getting ready to turn left when the light begins to change from green, to yellow and then to red.  The other driver is approaching and goes through the light.  The other driver may have ran the red light, but things happen quickly and if you pulled into the other driver's path then you may be at fault.  In some areas in Iowa, we have traffic cameras to capture exactly what happened, but the vast majority of intersections do not have traffic cameras. 

A more common left turn car accident is from a stop sign.  A driver looks and thinks there is no traffic coming, but in fact, there is a vehicle approaching.  Look before you leap is a term we have all heard before, but when it comes to making a left turn into traffic this is especially true.  It is best to look in both directions twice to make sure no one is coming.  It goes without saying, but talking on your cell phone or trying to send a text while making a left-hand turn is a bad idea.  Driver distraction is the number one reason we have car accidents, to begin with.  You don't want to place the safety of yourself or your passengers behind a call or text that could wait until you get home.  No call or text with worth the costly price you and your family could pay if involved in a car crash. 


Failing to Yield

When you are making a left hand turn across traffic, you have the duty to yield to oncoming traffic.  If you pull out in front of a vehicle that then strikes you, you are likely to be found at fault.  However, if the other vehicle was speeding then they may also be found at fault for the crash.  Under Iowa law, you have the right to assume that other drivers are following the traffic laws around you.  This means if the driver is going 100 mph in a 55 mph zone when you turn in front of his vehicle, then the speeding driver maybe 100% at fault for the collision. 


Uncontrolled Intersection

If there are no traffic signals then the general rule is that you must yield to your right.  Also, also discussed above there are rules to yield to oncoming traffic as well.  So if a vehicle is coming from your right and you turn left in front of the vehicle then you may be at fault for the collision.  As discussed above there can be other factors such as the speed of the other vehicle which will be considered in determining fault. 


Comparative Fault

Because determining fault can be difficult sometimes, Iowa has what is called a comparative fault.  Not surprisingly, this means that the fault of the parties is compared.  In order to make any recovery, you have to prove that the other driver was 50% or more at fault.  Whatever the percentage of fault that is assigned to you will reduce your recovery by that amount.  For example, let's say you were turning left and it is disputed whether the other driver ran the red light or you turned in front of him just prior to impact.  If a judge or jury found that you were 30% at fault and provided you with a verdict of $100,000 for your injuries, then you would only be allowed to collect $70,000 because you were 30% at fault. 


Where to go from Here?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a left-turn car accident then just because the police may have found you or the other driver at fault does not mean that the police are always right.  You should consider speaking with a qualified Iowa car accident attorney to determine if your case is worth investigating and pursuing.  Our office handles these types of cases on a contingency fee basis which means there is no upfront cost and no risk to you.  We are only paid if we are successful in making a recovery and then it is a percentage of the recovery depending upon if the case settles or if litigation is required.  If we are not successful, then you owe us nothing, not even the costs or time we spend on the case.  So there is no risk to you.

Maybe you are not ready to speak with an attorney yet which is just fine.  Then you should at least request a copy of our Iowa Car Accident book entitled "The Legal Insider's Guide to Iowa Car Accidents" which exposes 10 myths about Car accident claims, 5 things to know before hiring an attorney and much, much more.  We offer our book at no cost because during the past 20 plus years we have seen far too many Iowa make costly avoidable mistakes.  Now you can read about Iowa car accident laws, determine if you even need an attorney or not and educate yourself all in the comfort of your own home with no pressure. Request your copy today at  If you would like immediate assistance or to schedule your no cost Iowa car accident review Call Now (641) 792-3595.

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Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.