Negligent driver or green light... which takes precedence?

by Damian

Side impact accident diagram

Side impact accident diagram

I'll refer to the diagram above for this question. The collision happened as follows... Unit 2 was stopped at the light waiting to turn left. Then went into the intersection, striking Unit 1 in the very back bumper as they traveled across. Both drivers claim to have a green light.

Unit 2 made a statement to an officer that they never saw Unit 1 coming from the left. They stated that this was because they were adjusting their right sun visor to avoid sun glare. They have a witness from 2 cars behind who says the light did turn green before they moved into the intersection.

Unit 1 was traveling at 45 mph and was over 50% of the way through intersection. Unit 2 was traveling less than 10 mph and was only 10-20% of the way through intersection.

Who is at fault if we assume that the witness testimony is correct, and that the light had just turned green for unit 2? I'd really appreciate your perspective on this. Thank you.

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ANSWER for "Negligent driver or green light... which takes precedence?":

Damian (Ohio):

According to Ohio's Revised Code Section 4511.41, the law regarding intersections is summarized as follows:

4511.41 Right-of-way rule at intersections.

(A) When two vehicles, .....approach or enter an intersection from different streets or highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.

In your case it appears Unit #2 was on the left and Unit #1 was approaching from the right. If you were both approaching the intersection at the same time Unit #1 had the right of way. Of course, the issue of whether or not Unit #2 turned in violation of the traffic light must be factored in.

You shouldn't be intimidated about going to court. Go to the above URL and open up the law. Be sure you make at least three copies of the law. When you go to court, offer the defense attorney one copy, keep a copy for yourself and give a copy to the judge.

Rely on the law. You might consider in addition to arguing your speed and its impact on the collision, that you also argue the law regarding right of way at intersections. Judges almost always follow the law and give law precedence over testimony from witnesses and parties involved in a collision.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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The actual ticket
by: Damian

I've decided to fight the ticket. The ticket was not for failure to yield to the car or speeding, but for running the red light.

The police report does not contain a statement from the driver of vehicle 2. The police report includes my statement and the uninterested witness.

The witness stated and wrote TWICE on their summary that I was speeding through the red light. Their statement also contains information about where my car came to a stop.

Using aerial photos and simple measurements, we can see that the witness statement regarding my speed was impossible. A vehicle "speeding" (over posted 45mph) cannot come to a stop in 100 feet.

In the best circumstance, a family vehicle like mine could make a stop in around 130 feet.

I did not slam on my breaks at the point of impact, and even if I did, I could not make that stop.

The witness was obviously wrong about my speed.

The witness was so sure of my speed that she made note of it twice in her brief. Can this discredit the witness?

The officer and I both got statements from the driver of car 2 that she "never saw me". This is not on the report, because there is no statement from her on the report. Even if there was, she is not credible in my mind.

If she did not see a car she was hitting, how could she see the light?

I'm intimidated about going to court to face an attorney. Mind you there were no injuries here, but I'm trying to keep my driving record clean.

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