How statutory violations may contribute to accident liability

On a website for recent arrivals to the United States, one piece of advice was, "Note that Americans obey traffic laws and traffic signals, and will expect you to, too." When you engage in a driving activity as simple as crossing an intersection, you must trust that others approaching the intersection will let you pass when it is your turn; the vast majority of the time that faith is justified.

When it is not, however, the consequences can be lethal. This is shown by a recent two-car collision in Lithonia, when one vehicle ran a red light and struck another broadside, killing all three in the other vehicle. Aside from a charge of vehicular homicide, the surviving driver is also facing charges of driving while intoxicated and with hit-and-run.

Aside from the criminal law implications, civil law liability can also be a possibility, through a wrongful death claim. One aspect to consider in this regard is the evident violation of safety-related traffic laws, such as the obligation to comply with traffic signals. If the deceased drivers in the broadsided vehicle were among the class of people whom the law was meant to protect, then it may be possible to argue that ignoring the red light was evidence of negligence.

Wrongful death claims can bring a measure of financial relief to surviving relatives of the deceased if his or her death was caused by the act of another person, negligent or otherwise.  There are many legal aspects to investigating and establishing a wrongful death cause of action. Whether statutory violations may constitute evidence is only one of them; there are statute of limitations considerations, as well as determining who will bring the lawsuit, how to conduct discovery, and more, such as questions of what kinds of damages may be sought. An personal injury attorney experienced with settling and litigating wrongful death cases will be able to advise you in all of these considerations if you should lose a loved one to an unnecessary and preventable death.

Source: ABC11, "Wake County couple killed in Georgia crash," July 6, 2015

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