New York City Personal Injury Law Blog

The Color of the Traffic Light Plays a Pivotal Role in Auto Accident Cases

Posted on Oct 26, 2014 in Car Accidents

In any auto accident case where an intersection is involved, the lawyers will try to find out what was the color of the traffic light. In every auto accident case, there is a claim that the driver did not pay attention to the color of the traffic light. During the discovery phase that happens before the trial, the lawyer has the opportunity to question the person being sued. This is called a deposition, which is a question and answer session that takes place in attorney’s office under oath. The main thing the lawyer wants to find out at deposition is what the color of the light was.

Traffic LightsThe driver is obviously going to say that he saw green traffic light and therefore he went through the intersection. A dispute will arise when the other driver also claims the color of the traffic light at his side was also green. Only one of the drivers can be correct, assuming there was no mechanical fault with the traffic lights in question, and they were working properly.

Line of Questioning

It is not enough for the attorney to ask the defense witness simply one question about what the color of the traffic light was, while approaching the intersection, as he is going to say it was green. Instead, the lawyer will have to ask series of questions, specifically focusing on the color of the traffic light the driver saw. Such questions could include:

  • What was the color of the light when you first saw it as you approached the intersection
  • How far were you from the traffic light when you first saw it
  • At what speed were you travelling
  • Were there any other vehicles near to where you were driving
  • What was the weather at that time
  • Were you accelerating or did you slow down when you saw the light
  • Was the approach to the intersection on a decline or incline in the road
  • What time was it
  • Were your car windows open or shut
  • Did you have your car music system on

All these questions will help identify what the driver observed, and what he actually saw. The lawyer will also want to know whether the color of the traffic lights changed as the driver continued to approach the intersection, whether there were any cars driving before his vehicle, and whether he had to apply brakes for any reason. 

What does this Questioning Reveal?

This line of questioning will reveal tiny details, and help form an overall correct picture of what happened from the time the driver first saw the intersection, from the time he first saw the color of the traffic light, to the time it took the driver get into the intersection, and to the time when the impact occurred. All these questions are designed mainly to find out what the color of the traffic light was.

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