Evidence a Driver May Have Run a Red Light Before Your Crash


Running a red light is illegal and extremely dangerous. Red-light runners can cause serious and sometimes deadly collisions.

Victims of these accidents are often permanently injured and left with significant medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages. Filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit may allow these victims to obtain compensation to cover the full value of these damages.

The challenge with these claims is collecting evidence to prove the other driver ran a red light. This is a task best left to an experienced Sacramento car accident attorneys. The attorneys at Arnold Law Firm offer a free consultation and we have been securing car crash compensation in California for decades.

Below, we discuss how to prove someone ran a red light, including the various types of evidence our attorneys may be able to use.

Why You Need Proof For a Red-Light Crash Claim

It would be nice if the other driver simply admitted what he or she did, or if the at-fault driver’s insurance company chose to accept your account of the crash without additional proof. However, this is not the way things work when you file a claim for a California car crash.

Crash victims must prove the accident resulted from the other driver’s negligence, which is a failure to uphold a duty of care owed. Drivers have a duty of care to stop at red lights. If they disregard that duty and it directly results in a crash, they are liable for damages that result.

You need strong evidence of negligence to get the liable insurance company to pay your damages. If you are armed with strong evidence, and you are represented by an experienced lawyer who regularly takes cases to court, the insurance company will know you have a great chance of winning at trial. This motivates the insurer to reach a settlement.

Another reason you need strong evidence is because the at-fault driver or insurance company may say you are partially at fault. California law allows the insurance company to devalue your claim if you are partially at fault.

How do I Prove Fault For a Red-Light Accident?

There may be direct, indisputable evidence to prove the other driver ran a red light and caused an accident. When this type of evidence does not exist, the victim’s lawyer will need multiple pieces of evidence to show the crash was more than likely caused by running a red light.

Here are some types of evidence a lawyer may use to validate a red-light crash case:

Red Light Camera Footage

Many jurisdictions have implemented red light cameras, as they have proven to be effective in discouraging drivers from running red lights. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that red light cameras have reduced fatal accidents caused by running a red light by 21 percent in large cities.

Under Section 21455.5 of the California Vehicle Code, government agencies may use footage from a red-light camera to issue citations to drivers. Your attorney may be able to obtain the footage from one of these cameras to prove the other driver ran the red light and caused the collision.

It is important to note that not all intersections in Sacramento or other cities in California have traffic light cameras. That is why attorneys often need to rely on other evidence to prove these cases.

Severity of Damage to the Vehicles Involved

Red light crashes are usually serious crashes. The driver who ignored the red light was probably speeding to try to make it through the intersection before oncoming cars. The victim probably did not expect there to be a car coming through the intersection, which means the victim probably did not have much time to take evasive action.

If the cars came to rest in an intersection and they sustained severe damage, it may be a strong indication that one of the drivers did not have the right of way. Running a red light is a common example of violating California right-of-way rules.

Location of Damage on the Vehicles

The location of damage to the vehicles involved in the collision may also help paint a picture of what happened. When a driver runs a red light, the victim’s vehicle is often hit on its broad side as it travels through the intersection on a green light.

Accidents that result from running a red light often involve damage to the front of the at-fault party’s vehicle, as well as damage to the driver’s side of the victim’s vehicle.

Your lawyer may need to hire an accident reconstruction expert to review the damage and draw conclusions about what happened before the collision.

Even if vehicle damage seems to indicate the other driver ran through a red light, the insurance company may argue there was another reason for the collision. This is why conclusions about the location of damage need to be supported by other evidence.

Statements From Eyewitnesses

If people saw your crash, they may have also seen the other driver run through a red light. If your lawyer can obtain strong testimony from a credible witness, and the witness’ statements are backed up by additional evidence, it will be hard for the insurance company to dispute what happened.

Police Report

Police officers have seen a lot of crashes, so they can often tell why an accident occurred. They may even issue a citation to the at-fault driver for running a red light. Even if the officer does not issue a citation, the report may say that the officer believes the other driver ran a red light and caused the accident.

If you have more questions about how to prove the other driver ran a red light, call Arnold Law Firm to schedule a free legal consultation.

What Should I Do After a Crash Caused by Running a Red Light?

The first step to take after a crash is to try to move your vehicle out of harm’s way. Red-light crashes occur in intersections, which means both vehicles are in the path of oncoming cars. If possible, pull over into a parking lot or at least onto the side of the road. If you cannot move your car, turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers to help reduce the risk of a collision.

Call 9-1-1 as soon as possible to alert the police. If necessary, an ambulance can be sent to the scene to provide emergency medical assistance to anyone who sustained injuries.

If you do not receive treatment at the scene, you should still go to the hospital. In fact, you should go to the hospital from the scene of the crash. You may think your injuries are not a big deal, but you could be wrong. You should never make strong assumptions about the seriousness of an injury from a red-light crash. Some of the injuries that could occur in these crashes include:

  • Severe broken bone injuries
  • Traumatic brain/head injuries
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Lacerations and severe bruising
  • Whiplash
  • Ligament damage
  • And more

While seeking care right after the crash is important, so is continuing your treatment as directed by your doctors. If you stop treatment the insurance company will use it against you when you seek compensation for damages.

Contacting a lawyer is another vital step. The sooner you call a lawyer the better. Your lawyer can explain how you can help build a case, such as by documenting your lost wages and the other effects of your injury, such as missing out on hobbies or other activities you once enjoyed.

What Evidence Can I Gather at the Scene?

While you wait for the police and others to reach the scene, you can take steps to document what happened. For example, obtain the names and contact information for any witnesses who saw what happened. Provide this information to your attorney so he or she can contact the witnesses if necessary.

If possible, take pictures from many angles to help your lawyer visualize the accident scene. Include photos of:

  • Debris from the accident
  • Skid marks in the road
  • Both vehicles, showing their location and any visible damage sustained in the collision
  • Nearby items or structures damaged by the accident
  • Any other evidence of the collision or conditions at the time of the accident

What Damages Can I Recover in a Lawsuit?

If you were injured in a red-light crash, you may be able to seek compensation for all the damages you suffered, which may include:

  • Lost enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Permanent disability
  • Medical bills you have already incurred
  • Medical costs you will likely incur in the future
  • Damage to personal property

Our experienced lawyers are committed to securing full compensation for the damages you suffered in the crash.

Common Reasons For Red Light Crashes

There are several reasons why drivers run red lights. For example, drivers may:

  • Speed up when the light turns yellow – Oftentimes, they proceed through the intersection after the light has turned red. This is dangerous because vehicles from the perpendicular direction may have already entered the intersection on the corresponding green light.
  • Slam on their brakes when they realize they are not going to make the green light – Despite sudden braking, the vehicle may still enter the intersection and collide with cross traffic.
  • Be distracted or operating their vehicles recklessly – They may fail to notice the traffic light turned red. The driver proceeds into the intersection as if the light is still green, causing a dangerous collision.
  • Enter an intersection to turn left after the light has turned red – This may result in their vehicle getting hit by another car whose driver entered the intersection on a green light.
  • Have a hard time seeing traffic lights due to bad weather – Hard rain, heavy snow, fog or blinding sun may cause a driver to run a red light without realizing it.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you were injured in a car crash caused by someone who ran a red light, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. The attorneys at the Arnold Law Firm help injured victims recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to speak with our legal team about your claim. There are no upfront fees, and we only get paid if we recover compensation for you.

Call (916) 777-7777 today or fill out our Free Case Review form.