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Car accidents: Running a red light is negligence per se

The AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety recently noted an alarming increase in fatalities due to crashes involving drivers who ignore red lights. Reportedly, 939 people lost their lives in 2017 in these kinds of car accidents. New York drivers who ignore traffic lights might be deemed negligent per se.

Running a red light and causing the death of another person can lead to criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter. It could also result in a civil lawsuit for monetary damages. The civil justice system allows the surviving family members of anyone who died as the result of another party's negligence to sue. Civil lawsuits are based on evidence of negligence; to prevail, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant was negligent in a manner that caused the accident and the resulting injuries.

Any driver who was able to stop but made the choice to run a red light, and caused an accident in doing so, might be found negligent per se. This legal concept excuses the plaintiff from proving that a reasonable person should have acted differently; rather, the fact that the driver ran the light is automatically considered negligent. Evidence of a red-light conviction is likely sufficient to establish negligence per se in a related civil lawsuit, with the remaining focus then shifted to determining whether that negligence was the proximate cause of the accident and injuries that resulted. 

Navigating wrongful death lawsuits resulting from New York car accidents involves complicated legal proceedings, which are typically best handled by attorneys with experience in this field of the law. After losing a loved one in such circumstances, legal counsel can explain the plaintiff's rights and provide support and guidance throughout ensuing legal proceedings. After the successful presentation of such a lawsuit, the court might award a monetary judgment to cover financial and emotional damages.

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