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Michigan Car Accident Red Light Law: Your Legal Rights Explained

May 30, 2024 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan Car Accident Red Light Law: Your Legal Rights Explained

The Michigan car accident red light law allows you to sue for pain and suffering compensation and economic damages such as future medical bills and future economic loss if you are injured due to a negligent driver running a red light. 

An experienced auto accident attorney who specializes in helping people like you who have been injured in crashes can help you get full and fair compensation for your injuries.

What is Michigan’s red light law?

When a driver encounters a steady or flashing red light, Michigan law requires the driver to stop before entering the intersection – this includes stopping before entering the nearest crosswalk or marked limit line. (MCL 257.612(1)(c); 257.614(1)(a))

Running a red light means driving through an intersection without stopping for the red traffic signal as required by law.

National car accident running red light statistics

In the United States, in 2021 (the most current year for which data is publicly available), there were 1,109 people who lost their lives in car accidents as a result of a driver running a red light, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

Additionally, crashes caused by running red traffic signals injured 127,000 people in the U.S. that same year.

Michigan car accident running red light statistics

In Michigan in 2022, 6,068 red-light-running car accidents occurred, resulting in 37 deaths and 4,224 people being injured, according to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts. Of the 6,094 drivers who caused red-light-running auto crashes in Michigan in 2022, 180 or 3% “had-been-drinking” and 42 or .7% “were using drugs.”

Reasons why car accidents while running red lights happen

The six most common causes of a driver running a red-light are:

  1. Impatience – People do not want to wait for a traffic light signal to change from red to green, and when their desire to get to where they are going outweighs their good judgment, the risk of injury and death to other drivers on the road goes up substantially.  
  2. Speeding – Driving too fast makes it more difficult to slow down in time to stop at the red light. 
  3. Not slowing for a yellow light – A yellow light, also known as a caution light, means drivers should slow down and prepare to stop for a red light.  Unfortunately, most drivers speed up to try to make it through the intersection before the light turns red, instead of slowing down.  
  4. Thinking that no one will find out  – This often happens at night when a driver thinks he or she is alone on the road and does not have to obey the traffic lights or stop where required.
  5. Drunk or impaired driving – Drivers who use alcohol or drugs before driving have slower reflexes and impaired judgment and decision-making abilities.
  6. Distracted driving – Behavior such as texting or eating while driving takes the driver’s eyes off the road, which can result in the driver not seeing the traffic signal and running through it.

Proving who is at-fault

In Michigan, proving who is at-fault for causing a car accident by running a red light requires gathering as much evidence as possible about what happened at the time of the collision so you can show that the at-fault driver failed to stop for a red light and that his or her failure to stop caused the crash. 

The evidence needed for proving who is at-fault in a red light accident may include:

  • Statements from the at-fault driver
  • Your statement
  • Statements from occupants of all the vehicles involved in the crash
  • Statements from bystander witnesses including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists
  • Dash cam footage from vehicles involved in or near the accident
  • Surveillance footage from cameras on buildings, businesses and homes nearby
  • Black box data from the at-fault vehicle (to show whether and when the brakes were applied)
  • Data from the city as to the timing of the traffic signals
  • Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert
  • Inspections of the vehicle damage for each of the involved vehicles

As an auto accident attorney who has handled hundreds of cases of people running red lights, one important mistake to avoid is not getting the names and phone numbers of eyewitnesses who tell you at the scene that they witnessed the accident.  Too often, a negligent, at-fault driver will later change his or her story, and it is important to prevent these cases from becoming a “he said/she said” situation.  Eyewitness testimony can be vital.  

Can you sue someone who caused a car accident by running a red light?

In Michigan, if you or a loved one was hurt by someone who caused a car accident by running a red light, then you may be able to sue for pain and suffering compensation as well as economic damages that include past and future medical expenses and lost wages and earnings. 

In the case of a fatal accident that takes the life of your loved one, you and members of your family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, which allows you to recover: (1) damages to pay for medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses, (2) compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering, and (3) damages for your loss of your loved one’s financial support, society and companionship.(MCL 600.2922(6)

Red light car accident settlements

One of the most important steps you can take to make sure you get full compensation for your injuries after a red light car accident is hiring an experienced attorney who has the specialized knowledge and skill to get you the best possible settlement.

The insurance industry’s own data shows that hiring a lawyer with the reputation and “know how” to win your case can result in settlements four times larger or more than cases involving a less skilled lawyer.

  • Factors that will affect the amount of your settlement include: 
  • The insurance policy limits of the at-fault driver
  • The strength of the evidence showing the other driver was at-fault and, thus, liable
  • Your injuries
  • The effect your injuries have had on your ability to live your normal, pre-accident life
  • Past and future medical needs and expenses
  • Past and future lost wages and earnings
  • The county or venue in which your lawsuit was filed
  • The judge assigned to your case

Injured in a car accident in Michigan where a driver ran a red light? Call the attorneys at Michigan Auto Law now for a free consultation!

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident involving someone who ran a red light, call Michigan Auto Law now (855) 781-7747 for a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer near you. There is no cost or obligation. You can also visit our contact page or use the chat feature on our website.

Michigan Auto Law is Michigan’s largest and most successful law firm that specializes exclusively in helping people who have been injured in auto accidents.

Our secret? Our attorneys deliberately handle fewer cases than other personal injury law firms.  This allows us to focus more time and attention on our cases.

Unlike other law firms, our auto accident attorneys are never too busy to promptly return phone calls and answer questions. 

We have more than 2,000 5-Star Reviews that reflect this care and attention to detail.

More importantly, this client-focused approach leads to better and faster settlements for our clients. Michigan Auto Law has recovered more million-dollar settlements and trial verdicts for motor vehicle accidents than any other lawyer or law firm in Michigan. We’ve also recovered the highest ever reported truck accident and car accident settlement in the state.

Call now so we can start making a real difference for you.

Michigan Car Accident Red Light Law: Your Legal Rights Explained

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