Red Light Car Accidents
All drivers understand the basics of traffic lights and the obligations they impose on motor vehicle operators. Indeed, when a light is green, a car has the right to proceed; when a light is yellow, a driver should slow their vehicle and prepare to come to a stop; and when a light is red, the driver has an obligation to come to a complete stop and wait until the light turns green, signally the right to proceed. Under no circumstances is a vehicle authorized to proceed through an intersection when a light is red.
Despite the duty to stop for red lights and yield the right-of-way to other drivers as such–a duty that is well understood by all motor vehicle operators in Utah–red light car accidents continue to occur in the state. At the law offices of Christensen & Hymas, our experienced Utah red light car accident attorneys can provide you with the competent representation you deserve if you’ve been hit by a driver who negligently ran a red light. Contact us today for your free consultation.
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Running a Red Light Kills
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), those who run red lights cause tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths every single year throughout the country. Those who are affected by red light runs include those in motor vehicles (other drivers and passengers), bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Red light collisions are the most common type of accident, comprising (when combined with accidents involving drivers who ran stop signs and other traffic control devices) 22 percent of all collisions.
Types of Red Light Accidents
If a driver enters an intersection when a traffic control light is red, they have committed an infraction, and are endangering all others on the road around them. Doing so can result in a number of different collision types, including, most commonly, T-bone accidents. A T-bone accident occurs when one driver fails to yield the right-of-way to another, proceeding into an intersection illegally, resulting in an accident in which the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another, forming a T-like shape. T-bone accidents can be deadly, and result in serious–if not fatal–injuries.
In addition to T-bone collisions, head-on accidents are also possible – these are the deadliest accident types.
In some cases, a red light violation may occur when a driver is making a right-hand turn, rather than proceeding through an intersection. When right-hand turn violations are made, those in a crosswalk are often the most at risk. While drivers sometimes do have the right to make a right-hand turn when the light is red, this right is contingent on the way being free and clear of others. If vehicles from across the intersection are making a left hand turn down the same road, the driver wishing to make a right-hand turn must yield. If the crosswalk has cyclists or pedestrians within it, the driver wishing to make the right-hand turn must yield.
Damages in a Red Light Car Accident
As stated above, the injuries and damages that can result from a red light car accident can be severe. The severity of a crash depends upon a number of factors, including:
- The speed at which vehicles are traveling at the time of collision;
- The angle of vehicles at the time of collision; and
- The types of vehicles/parties involved in the accident – for example, injuries suffered by a pedestrian who is hit in a right-hand turn accident in a crosswalk may be more severe than are injuries suffered by a driver protected by a metal frame of a car, airbags, seatbelt, etc.
In addition to property damage to a vehicle, which can total thousands of dollars, the extent of injuries sustained by a driver, passenger, or other party may be catastrophic. Injuries that are common in red light car accidents in Utah include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs);
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Back and neck injuries;
- Internal injuries;
- Bone fracture injuries;
- Lacerations, cuts, bruises, and other superficial injuries; and
- Soft tissue injuries.
In many cases, victims of a red light car accident may also incur psychological injuries as well.
Recovering Compensation for Damages after a Red Light Crash and Understanding Fault
In a red light collision, fault is often obvious: the driver who ran the red light, which can be corroborated by witness statements and red light cameras, is the at-fault party. However, it is not always the at-fault party who is automatically responsible for paying for damages suffered by the not-at-fault party.
In fact, Utah requires all of its drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage in an amount of at least $3,000. Before a driver can file a third party liability claim (a claim against the at-fault party for compensation), they must first file a first party claim (with their own insurance company) and exhaust their PIP coverage. PIP coverage pays for medical expenses after an accident.
Once a PIP policy limit has been exhausted, the injured driver may bring forth a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. Then, the rule of modified comparative fault applies, which holds that an injured party can recover compensation from any other party who is more at fault than themselves, and that damages are reduced in proportion to one’s own degree of fault. For example, if the other party was 100 percent to blame for your accident and losses, you can seek 100 percent of your total damages amount. If only 90 percent at fault, you can only seek 90 percent of damages, etc.
Our Attorneys Work Hard on Your Behalf
Understand Utah’s insurance and fault laws is an important component of ensuring that you recover the full amount that you’re entitled to. At the offices of Christensen & Hymas, our experienced red light car accident attorneys in Utah can investigate your claim and gather the evidence necessary to prove fault and hold the other driver liable for 100 percent of your damages. We can also do what’s necessary to prove the extent of damages you have suffered, and negotiate for a fair settlement amount.
If you have been harmed by a negligent driver who ran a red light, don’t hesitate to call our law offices today. We have the experience and skill set you’re looking for, and prioritize Utah values like hard work and honesty. Reach us today for your free consultation by sending us a message, or calling us directly.