Some drivers fail to follow road rules and do not obey traffic signals, such as stop signs or red lights. When drivers fail to obey traffic signals, they are not using reasonable care for the safety of others. The result can be catastrophic injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, disfigurement, or even deaths that could have been prevented. At The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, our car accident lawyers may be able to provide aggressive representation to victims of accidents caused by traffic signal violations.
Accidents Caused by Traffic Signal Violations
Drivers who put others at risk by failing to obey traffic signals should be held accountable for the injuries and damages that result. In some cases, the failure to obey results in a side impact collision, which can be particularly dangerous because there is very little buffer between the front of one car and the side of the other. In other cases, the result is a head on collision, a pedestrian accident, or some other potentially fatal crash.
The driver may be charged through the criminal system or may get points on their record, but these penalties do not necessarily help the victim, who may face lifelong disabilities, large medical bills, and a need to take time off from work. They will not help the family of an accident victim who is killed because of a failure to obey a traffic signal.
You may be able to hold a driver who disobeys traffic signals liable for a resulting accident by establishing negligence or negligence per se in a civil personal injury lawsuit, which is separate from the at-fault driver’s citation or criminal charges. In fact, you may be able to recover damages even if the at-fault driver successfully fights the citation or criminal charges.
To establish negligence, you will need to show that it is more likely than not that the other driver owed you a duty to use reasonable care, the other driver breached this duty, and there was causation and actual damages. All drivers owe other drivers and pedestrians a duty to drive using reasonable care based on the circumstances, and this includes a duty to follow traffic signals. When the other driver is cited for a failure to obey a traffic signal, it may be possible for a plaintiff to establish negligence per se.
Negligence per se applies when a driver breaks a safety law or regulation that was put in place to prevent the type of injury suffered by the plaintiff. It can be a helpful theory for plaintiffs pursuing damages because it shifts the focus away from duty and liability to the extent and nature of the damages incurred as a result of the safety law violation.
Damages that your attorney may be able to recover when you establish liability include all compensatory losses, both economic and noneconomic. Economic losses include medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, household services, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and the costs of any special equipment or household modifications that you need as a result of the injuries. For example, if you were paralyzed, you would probably need a wheelchair, wheelchair access to your house, medications, therapies, rehabilitation, and more. Noneconomic losses may include such intangible items of loss as loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. Noneconomic damages can vary significantly, depending on the lifestyle of the plaintiff prior to being injured. When the defendant violated a traffic signal because they were drunk, it may also be possible to recover punitive damages, which are damages awarded to punish the defendant and deter future similar conduct.