What If I Had a Car Accident Due to Malfunctioning Traffic Lights?

Posted on 01/22/19

in Blog, Car Accidents

Updated Febrauary 2024

As drivers, we depend on traffic lights and signage to help us navigate the roads and intersections. When it comes to traffic signals, a malfunctioning one can wreak havoc on normal intersection flow. If you have been in a car accident due to malfunctioning traffic lights, determining who is liable for a car accident can be difficult to sort out due to the confusion regarding a driver’s duties when traffic lights malfunction.

traffic light

When traffic signals blackout or malfunction, the individual drivers or pedestrians navigating the intersection may have liability and, in some cases, the government entity (city, county or state) may be liable for the car accident. Fighting a case involving a malfunctioning traffic signal is challenging to understand and a car accident attorney in Savannah can help you with your case.

What Causes Traffic Lights to Malfunction

Malfunctioning traffic lights occur for a number of reasons. While rare, they contribute to a number of accidents each year, and some even result in death. Traffic lights can become faulty if there are severe weather conditions, such as high winds and rain that damage circuits and cause traffic lights to malfunction.

Sometimes a traffic light is improperly installed or it may not be maintained properly causing a car accident where someone is injured. Sometimes, these traffic lights conflict, showing green at the same time. This can cause an accident as both motorists think they have the right away.

In certain times, malfunctioning traffic lights may not provide enough time for a pedestrian to cross the street. This can cause a traffic backup that results in a crash from behind. In all these instances, it is safe to say the traffic lights were to blame for the accident that occurred.

Who is to Blame for an Accident Caused by Malfunctioning Traffic Lights?

This is the tricky part. Is the city considered at fault when a traffic control device isn’t functioning properly? When it comes to malfunctioning traffic lights, the entity responsible for maintaining the light can be held accountable. Counties and municipalities have a statutorily imposed duty to ensure roads are safe for users.

In some cases, the city may be, but seeking financial compensation from a government body can be difficult even when they are clearly at fault. This is where an experienced car accident attorney comes into play. At Bowen Painter Trial Lawyers, we have invaluable experience with similar cases and can counsel you on the best approach to recover financially for your damages. At the same time, we can also pursue a remedy with your insurance company regardless of whether you received a ticket.

What to Do When Traffic Lights Malfunction?

Dealing with malfunctioning traffic lights can be a scary prospect, as it fosters confusion and increases the risk of accidents. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, here’s what to do:

Stay Calm and Assess the Situation: Begin by staying calm – panic-induced reactions often lead to poor decisions. Take note of what exactly is going on – is the light out? is it blinking? Make sure you look at the traffic signs the other lanes are seeing so you know what steps to take.

Follow Standard Traffic Rules: If the traffic light isn’t working properly, follow standard right-of-way principles if you and another vehicle reach the intersection at around about same time.

If the light is blinking red, you should treat it as a stop sign. If your light is blinking yellow, you should proceed slowly and with caution through the light.

Use Caution and Look for Pedestrians: Even as you follow these rules, be sure to proceed with caution – watch out for pedestrians who might’ve attempted to cross without realizing the lights aren’t functioning correctly.

Report the Malfunction: Once you’ve made it through the intersection, find a safe spot to pull over before making a call to local authorities or the Department of Transportation to report the malfunctioning traffic light. This can help prevent accidents by allowing immediate action to be taken.

Contact a Lawyer if Necessary: If you’ve been injured due to an accident caused by a malfunctioning traffic light, it’s crucial to contact a lawyer. A personal injury lawyer law can guide you through the claims process and fight for full compensation on your behalf.

What to Do if the Traffic Signals Blackout?

When traffic signals go entirely dark due to power outages or other reasons, navigating intersections can become a little more challenging. If you ever encounter such a scenario, here are the steps you should consider taking:

  • Treat as a Stop Sign: When confronting nonfunctional traffic lights, drivers should interpret the intersection as though every direction has a stop sign.  This means stopping completely before cautiously moving forward when it is safe to do so.
  • Prioritize Safety and Communication: Use hand signals or use your vehicle’s turn signals early to communicate your intentions clearly to other drivers.
  • Don’t Assume Other Drivers Will Stop: Unfortunately, not every driver exercises caution during traffic light outages. Never assume other drivers will stop as expected or make the correct decisions when faced with a blackout.
  • Proceed with Extreme Caution: When it’s your turn to proceed through the intersection, do so very carefully and slowly. This will give you more time to react in case of unexpected hazards or emergency vehicles that need to pass.
  • Report the Blackout: Once safely clear of the intersection, pull over and report the issue to local law enforcement authorities who can quickly steer traffic away from this danger zone or send out someone to direct traffic until repairs can be made.
  • Contact a lawyer if Necessary: If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by blacked-out traffic signals, it’s important to reach out to a personal injury lawyer. They can provide the necessary guidance and representation for bringing forward claims against responsible parties and securing compensation for any injuries or damages sustained.

What are Your Rights if Your Accident was Caused by Malfunctioning Traffic Lights?

When it comes to faulty traffic lights that caused your car accident, you do have rights. There are times where you may be able to receive compensation from a government entity to help pay your medical bills and lost wages from work. Also, you can receive a settlement from a municipality that was at fault for your accident for your vehicle damage instead of another driver.

Working with one of our Savannah car accident attorneys can help when malfunctioning traffic lights are to blame for your car crash. We will help you determine if you have a claim against the government or another driver.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Savannah

Do not let malfunctioning traffic lights stop you from receiving a settlement in your car accident case. Let one of our experienced car accident attorneys fight for you. We offer a free case review and will help determine if you have a case against a municipality. You can contact our Savannah personal injury lawyers online or call us directly at 912-335-1909.