Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers Explain Some Important Things You Need To Know If You Were Hurt in a Traffic Light Accident
Red means stop and green means go. This is is one of those traffic rules that even children know. But the rules governing a traffic light accident are not always this simple. Here’s what you need to know about liability at traffic lights.
The Legal Basics of Car Accidents at Traffic Lights
There are several different types of traffic control lights that exist on our roadways, but perhaps the most common is the standard three colored type light pictured above. If you are approaching a red light, you are required to “stop at a clearly marked stop line” or “at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of the approaching traffic.”
Outside of New York City, “traffic facing a steady circular red signal may cautiously enter the intersection to make a right turn after stopping.” Also, and outside of New York City, “traffic, while on a one-way roadway, facing a steady red signal may cautiously enter the intersection to make a left turn onto a one-way roadway after stopping.”
At yellow lights, motorists “may enter the intersection.” However, motorists are warned that a red light is soon to follow. If you enter the intersection during a yellow light, you may complete the movement. Otherwise, slow down to a stop so as to not run a red light. When the light is green, traffic “may proceed straight through or turn right or left unless a sign at such place prohibits either such turn.”
Does a Driver With a Green Light Always Have the Right of Way? Well, not really….
A green light is considered only “an invitation to proceed”. Specifically, the driver with a green light has the right to assume that the light for cross traffic is red and that drivers will obey the red traffic light. However, and as we all know, drivers do not always obey red traffic lights.
As a result, the driver with the green light must still use reasonable care to avoid a collision, even though the other driver may have a red light. The law imposes a duty on all drivers to “keep a proper lookout” and take reasonable measures to avoid a collision. So, a driver approaching an intersection with a green light is legally obligated to avoid the other vehicle, even if the other vehicle is clearly running a red light.
This does not mean, however, that the driver of the red light avoids responsibility. In fact, by disregarding a red traffic light, the driver has violated the Vehicle and Traffic Law, and may be held negligent automatically. However, if you had the green light, and failed to yield to avoid the collision, even though the other driver ran a red light, the jury could find you comparatively negligent. If this happens, any damages awarded to you would be reduced by the percentage of fault that the jury finds against you.
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If your accident happened at a traffic light, email or call (800) 762-9300 and speak with one of our experienced car accident attorneys for a free consultation. You can also fill out a case intake forms and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.
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