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Most drivers have experienced the confusing situation when a traffic signal changes unexpectedly. Fortunately, most of the time this may only lead to frustration and extra time in traffic. However, in some cases, a defective traffic control device can lead to an accident. Poorly programmed traffic control devices can cause vehicles to crash in an intersection, injuring the drivers, passengers, and even pedestrians.
Accidents Caused by Traffic Control Devices
Drivers rely on traffic signals to get around safely on the streets. Stop signs prevent drivers from crashing into each other at intersections. Traffic lights signal when drivers can go, and when they should stop. However, when these traffic signals malfunction, are poorly programmed, or not visible to drivers, they can cause traffic accidents.
Some traffic signals rely on sensors, including sensors in the ground to tell the device when a car is waiting for a green light. Other traffic signals are based on preset timers. Traffic lights can also detect when an emergency vehicle is approaching to give a green light to the approaching ambulance or fire truck. However, just like any electronic device, these sensors can malfunction.
There are a number of ways these malfunctions can cause an accident. Drivers usually anticipate having a certain amount of time after a light turns green to continue through the intersection. However, if the light suddenly changes, a driver may end up in the intersection when other vehicles have a green light. This can lead to a head-on collision, t-bone accident, or an accident with a pedestrian.
Even a covered stop sign can lead to an accident. If you are driving in a familiar area, you may already know where the stops signs are. However, for new drivers, visitors, or tourists, they may not know that an intersection is controlled if a stop sign is covered up by a tree, knocked over, or otherwise obscured. This can lead to a dangerous accident.
Injuries from an accident caused by a defective traffic control device can range from minor to severe. Any injury may require emergency medical treatment, hospital care, surgery, and continuing treatment. An injured driver or passenger may not be able to work while they recover from the accident, and may be permanently injured as a result of the accident. This can leave the victim with expensive medical bills and lost wages.
After an Accident Involving Defective Traffic Control Devices
Accidents involving poorly programmed or defective traffic control devices can be more complicated than typical car accidents. The first problem that people encounter is that no one believes that the accident was caused by a defective traffic signal. The police officer responding to the accident may think that you caused the accident because they do not believe the traffic signal could be malfunctioning.
Your insurance company may also not believe that the accident was caused by a poorly programmed traffic light. They may even deny your insurance claim because they say you are the one who caused the accident. For drivers who do not seek out the assistance of an attorney, they may just give up and lose out on thousands of dollars in damage and medical bills. However, if you contact an experienced attorney, they will investigate your case and make sure the insurance company takes your claim seriously.
Another problem drivers may encounter is trying to get the city to pay up for the accident. Most traffic signals are owned and maintained by the District of Columbia. If the traffic signal was malfunctioning or poorly programmed, then the government should be responsible for the damages and injuries resulting from the accident.
Claims for damages against the government are not like other injury lawsuits. Claims against Washington D.C. have notice requirements and a shorter timeline than the personal injury statute of limitations. Anyone seeking damages from the District must notify the government in writing within 6 months of the accident. You should talk to your attorney as soon as possible after an accident so that your claim can be filed in time and you will not lose out on compensation.
Traffic control device malfunction cases can be complicated. Your attorney may utilize engineers or experts to review your case, and if necessary, explain to the judge and jury how a defective device caused the accident.
Defective Traffic Control Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a faulty traffic control device, the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian may be able to help. Claims against the government can be more complicated than simple claims against another driver. Our attorneys have years of experience dealing with automobile accident cases against city and state government agencies throughout the Metro DC area. We will fight for your rights to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.