Can I Share Liability if Someone Ran a Red Light and Hit My Car?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on January 25, 2021 in Car Accidents
Updated on April 24, 2024

red light traffic signalSerious accidents are often caused by negligent drivers who run a red light and collide with another vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian. If you are struck by a driver in this situation, can you be held partially liable for the damages?

PKSD discusses Wisconsin’s laws at traffic signals, who may be liable for a red light crash and when negligence for a crash may be shared.

If you were injured because another driver ran a red light and struck your car, our firm is prepared to help you understand your potential legal options. In the free consultation we offer, you can learn whether you may have a case without obligation or risk. There are no upfront costs if we represent you.

Red Light Crashes Are On the Rise

Red light crashes are often serious or deadly. Sadly these types of accidents are almost always preventable. Yet according to recent data provided by AAA, approximately two people in the U.S. die every day because of these crashes. Nearly half of those killed are passengers in one of the involved vehicles and five percent are pedestrians or cyclists struck in the intersection. At least 35 percent of U.S. fatalities were due to crashes caused by drivers who ran the red light.

Traffic Signals in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the law is very clear on how approaching vehicles must respond to traffic signals:

  • Yellow light:  Amber or yellow lights signal drivers to prepare to slow down and stop at a red light unless you cannot stop safely. It does not mean speed up and drive through.
  • Red light, turning left: Unlike many states, drivers may turn left on a red light at certain intersections. However, drivers must first come to a full and complete stop to check for traffic, pedestrians and others in the intersection before proceeding.
  • Red light, turning right: The same precaution applies for those turning right on red – except that drivers must also remember that approaching traffic may be preparing to turn at the same time. All drivers must come to a full stop and check that it is safe to complete a turn.
  • Green light: While a green light gives you the right-of-way, charging into the intersection without first checking for potential yellow or red light runners may cause you to suffer serious injuries. A driver’s duty of care does not disappear simply because the light is green.

Regardless of the color of a traffic light, all drivers owe others on the road a duty of care. This means always checking for approaching traffic and yielding right-of-way if you cannot proceed safely.

He Said, She Said

The state does not look lightly on those who violate Wisconsin’s traffic signal laws. At a minimum, violators can expect to receive points on their license and heavy fines. If the accident results in a death, the at-fault driver may be charged with vehicular homicide.

However, it can sometimes be challenging to prove fault at intersections that have no traffic cameras. Both parties may insist they still had a green light and the situation can quickly turn into a case of one driver’s word against another’s. Involved insurance companies are both likely to argue their policyholders are not liable. So how is this type of case resolved and where does that leave an injured victim?

Establishing Negligence

As with any accident, calling 9-1-1 to get emergency responders on the scene helps injured parties to receive medical care more quickly. While there, police and other first responders will also investigate the accident to learn more about what happened. Evidence may be found by:

  • Examining vehicle damages
  • Checking for traffic or dash cam video footage
  • Getting statements from eye witnesses

Since all drivers have a duty to avoid causing a dangerous accident, it may be possible to show that both parties may be partly negligent. The law places responsibility on both drivers to be sure the path is clear before turning or crossing an intersection.

Can I Still Pursue a Claim if I am Partly At-Fault

Yes, it is possible to share liability for an accident and still seek compensation for your damages. However, your degree of fault cannot be 51 percent or greater. If it is, then per Wisconsin’s comparative negligence fault system, you will not be able to recover your losses.

If you are less than 51 percent at-fault for an accident, then you will be responsible for your percentage of the damages.

Contact One of Our Trusted Attorneys When You Need Legal Help

Accident claims that are more complicated may benefit from a knowledgeable lawyer with a successful track record. Our Milwaukee car accident attorneys have a proven history of representing injured victims throughout Wisconsin, recovering millions on their behalf.

Learn if we may be able to help you seek compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses and other damages. There is no cost or obligation for us to help determine your legal options

Our experienced lawyers are prepared to fight for you. 414-333-3333

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