A Fatal Crash in Southern Oregon Spotlights the Dangers of Running Red Lights

Drivers not obeying traffic signals is a problem nationwide. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 1.149 people died in crashes where someone ran a red light in 2022. Even when the results are not fatal, these accidents often cause massive or catastrophic injuries to people who were driving safely when they were hit. While suing someone who ran a red light and hurt you might seem simple, these cases usually are complex and nuanced, which is why you should contact an experienced Oregon auto accident lawyer if you’ve been injured by one of these drivers.

A crash from Roseburg is a recent example of how serious running red lights can be. According to a report from KQEN news radio, a 20-year-old man in a Ford F550 pickup truck was heading “eastbound on Oak Street through a red light” when a 69-year-old man in a Toyota Prius struck the side of the truck.
The driver of the Prius died at the scene.

According to a study by the American Automobile Foundation from a few years ago, the incidence of fatalities in red-light-running crashes is higher in Oregon (1.7 per million) than in either Washington (1.2) or Idaho (0.7). Additionally, the study found that drivers running red lights in Oregon posed an especially high danger to bicyclists and pedestrians. Those two groups comprised 12.9% of all people killed by drivers who ran red lights, which was the third-highest rate in the country.

Here in Portland, the local government has taken steps to curb red light running. As of the beginning of this month, the city had 12 “intersection safety cameras” in use with an additional four under construction. A 17th camera is currently operating as a red-light camera only but will be upgraded to a full intersection safety camera. (Intersection safety cameras can issue citations to drivers who run red lights or speed.)

Red Light Tickets and the Law of ‘Negligence Per Se’

If you’re hurt by someone who ran a red light, you can use evidence of that violation as part of your civil case for compensation. Oregon – like all U.S. states – recognizes the legal concept of “negligence per se” in civil law. This doctrine says that if you prove the at-fault driver violated a traffic or criminal statute, then the court may presume that the driver acted negligently. To apply the doctrine, you must be a “member of the class intended by the legislature to be protected” and your injuries were “of the kind which the statute was intended to prevent.”

As an example, say John Doe ran a red light. He and William Roe collided, injuring Roe. The police cited Doe for running the red light, and Doe paid the ticket. Roe potentially can invoke “negligence per se” based on the paid ticket. The law against running red lights clearly exists to protect other drivers and passengers on the roads and is intended to prevent intersection injuries due to drivers failing to yield. This would allow Roe to bypass some of the evidentiary requirements related to proving negligence that the law would normally impose on an injured person who brought a negligence case.

Even if you are armed with this proof, you should be prepared to fight vigorously17 in the civil litigation system and in dealing with auto insurance companies that will still work strenuously to devalue your case as much as possible. To enhance your chances of achieving a just outcome, you should retain the services of an experienced advocate. The skilled Oregon car accident attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC are here to answer your questions, provide essential advice, and be your voice in the pursuit of an appropriate outcome. Call (503) 226-3844 today or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor Portland, OR 97204 Telephone: (503) 226-3844 Fax: (503) 943-6670 Email: matthew@mdkaplanlaw.com
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