Jill Kolodner | June 9, 2022 | Car Accidents
Over one-half of the injury and fatal crashes in the country occur at or near intersections. In a study of intersection crashes from 2010 to 2017 by AutoInsurance, Maryland ranked sixth for intersection fatalities.
Many intersection accidents are caused by drivers failing to yield the right of way. They run a red light or turn left in front of oncoming traffic. The result is often a catastrophic head-on collision or T-bone (side impact) crash.
What Are the Laws in Maryland Regarding Red Lights?
Maryland Transportation Code §21-202 states that if a traffic light is red, drivers must stop and remain stopped until they have a signal to proceed. If there is no clearly marked line for cars to stop, the driver must stop before entering a crosswalk or intersection.
Exceptions to the red light law include turning right on red and turning left from a one-way street onto a one-way street, unless a sign prohibits such turns. However, drivers have a duty to follow right-of-way laws, including yielding the right of way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.
Can a Vehicle Enter an Intersection on a Yellow Light in Maryland?
The vehicle code states that a steady yellow signal is a warning that the movement allowed by the green light is about to end. In other words, the traffic signal is about to turn red.
Maryland does not have a specific law prohibiting entering an intersection when the traffic light is yellow. Therefore, determining fault for an intersection accident could be tricky if the driver enters the intersection on yellow.
Liability for Red and Yellow Light Traffic Accidents in Maryland
Maryland is an at-fault state for car accidents. You must prove that the other driver caused the car accident before you can recover compensation for injuries and damages.
Therefore, you must have evidence proving:
- Duty – The other driver owed you a duty of care
- Breach of Duty – The other driver breached their duty of care by failing to act with reasonable prudence and care to avoid causing harm to another person
- Causation – The other driver’s actions were a direct and proximate cause of the car crash
- Damages – You sustained damages because of the collision
If a driver runs a red light, it is generally presumed that the driver was at fault and is liable for damages. The driver had a duty of care to follow traffic laws and breached the duty of care by failing to stop for a red light. Therefore, the driver’s actions were the cause of the car accident that resulted in your injuries.
However, what happens when the light is yellow? Then, proving liability for the intersection accident becomes more challenging.
If the light turned red just after you entered the intersection, the other driver would have a green light and the right of way. However, the other driver also has a duty to avoid accidents, so a driver who purposefully guns the motor to enter an intersection knowing another car is there could still be at fault for the car accident.
A Baltimore car accident lawyer would need to gather evidence and analyze the specific facts of the case. Videos from traffic cameras and nearby surveillance cameras can be valuable evidence in a yellow light car accident case. Eyewitness testimony can also help prove which driver had the right of way.
Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Law and Yellow Light Accidents
Maryland is one of just four states and the District of Columbia that uses a pure contributory fault standard in personal injury claims. The law bars victims from recovering any compensation for damages if they contributed in any way to the cause of their injury.
Therefore, you could be 1% at fault for a yellow light accident, and the other driver would not be liable for your injuries and damages. Insurance companies understand this standard and use it against injured victims to avoid paying claims.
It is crucial that you do not talk to an insurance adjuster after a yellow light accident without consulting a personal injury lawyer. The best way to handle the situation is to refer the insurance adjuster to your lawyer.
After a yellow light accident, do not admit fault. If you entered the intersection on yellow, don’t admit to running a traffic light or failing to yield the right of way.
Instead, contact a Baltimore car accident lawyer as soon as possible. You cannot be sure who is liable for the accident until all the facts are verified. An attorney can help you fight allegations that you were partially to blame for a yellow light accident.