Car accidents happen for many reasons. Often, one or more drivers may be clearly at fault. However, if the accident occurred at an intersection with a malfunctioning traffic light, proving liability is much more complicated. While it may be more difficult to obtain full compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident involving a faulty traffic light, it is not impossible.
What Causes Traffic Light Malfunctions?
There are many reasons why a traffic light may not work properly. One common cause is a power outage during or after a storm. Other reasons may include:
- Improper installation
- Poorly programmed timers or sensors
- Direct damage from high winds or rain
When approaching an intersection with a broken traffic light, drivers are responsible for following the rules of the road. For example, drivers must come to a complete stop if the lights are flashing red and allow the car on the right to proceed first.
In some cases, traffic light malfunctions are not readily apparent. Although rare, there have been instances when faulty sensors caused traffic lights in all directions to turn green at the same time. Even in extreme cases like this, it can be quite difficult to prove a traffic light malfunction caused the accident. Responding police officers and insurance companies may be highly skeptical that it was a broken light and not driver error that caused the crash. That is why it is imperative to collect evidence that the light was not working properly. This may include photographing the damaged light and obtaining accounts from witnesses or other drivers who approached the intersection before the accident occurred. Enlisting the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer at this stage is paramount. For example, an attorney may be able to call upon engineers or other subject matter experts to provide statements.
Filing Claims Against Municipalities
Traffic lights are typically installed and maintained by municipalities. It may seem obvious to hold a municipality liable for an accident that occurred at an intersection with a broken traffic light. Proving a traffic light malfunction contributed to a car accident does not necessarily mean that an injured accident victim will receive compensation from a municipality.
Depending on local and state laws, some government entities have immunity from certain liabilities. For example, a government may be liable for dispatching a repair crew to fix a faulty traffic light but only after the problem is reported. Even if a government entity is deemed liable for a malfunctioning light, accident victims must notify the entity in writing within certain deadlines for a claim to be considered. The statute of limitations varies from state to state and the process for filing claims can be onerous. That is another reason why it is imperative to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a serious accident has occurred. It may be difficult and complicated to obtain full compensation for car accident injuries that occurred as a result of a traffic light malfunction, but it is certainly possible with the help of an accomplished attorney.
Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Take on Complex Car Accident Claims
If you have a serious personal injury claim resulting from a car accident, do not delay in contacting the Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. We will take on your case and fight to see that you are fully compensated. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call us at 412-765-1888. From our offices in Pittsburgh, we represent clients throughout Allegheny County, Lawrence County, Washington County, and western Pennsylvania.