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Who Has the Right-of-Way if a Traffic Light is Out in Michigan?

non-working traffic light right-of-way Traffic lights are a great way to direct the flow of traffic safely. However, what if you get to an intersection only to find non-working traffic lights? If drivers get confused about who has the right-of-way and it leads to a crash, who could be liable for damages?

At Jay Trucks, we have answers to your legal questions. Our experienced traffic accident lawyers in Flint have been helping injured victims for decades.

If another’s negligence caused you serious harm, contact our law offices as soon as possible. We offer a free initial consultation to talk about your potential case. There is no obligation for this meeting. This means you can learn about your legal options with no risk to you.

No Upfront Costs. 989-244-0356

What Should You Do if a Traffic Light is Out at a Michigan Intersection?

Historically, there has been a lot of debate in Michigan about who has the right-of-way when traffic lights are out or broken. However, in 2018, this confusion was clarified and became law (MCL 257-649). Under the new law, an intersection with a non-working traffic light must be treated as a four-way stop.

This means that all drivers must, under the law:

  • Come to a full stop at the marked stop line before driving through the intersection
  • When there is no stop line, stop before entering the crosswalk on the nearer side of the intersection
  • If there is also no crosswalk, come to a complete stop before pulling out into the intersection
  • If a vehicle on your right enters the intersection around the same time you do, you must yield to that vehicle
  • You must also yield to any vehicle that puts you or others in immediate danger, even if you have the right of way
  • Continue to monitor for other vehicles as you travel through the intersection

What if the Traffic Lights Are On But Not Working Properly?

Power outages can also cause traffic lights to malfunction. If the lights go completely dark, the four-way stop applies. If the traffic light is flashing red, you must fully stop at the intersection and yield to oncoming traffic. Then proceed when clear. If there is a flashing yellow signal, then treat it as a stop sign. You can proceed with caution as traffic permits.

Who is Liable for a Crash at a Non-Working Traffic Light?

Like most car crashes, determining liability is often complex. The injured party filing a claim must be able to prove another driver was negligent. Unfortunately, if the lights are out or broken, any existing traffic cams are probably not working either. However, negligence may still be established with other types of evidence, such as:

  • Statements from credible eyewitnesses
  • A police officer who may have seen the crash
  • Dash cam footage from other drivers
  • The location and extent of vehicle damage
  • Help from an accident reconstruction specialist

Drivers Are Usually Liable for Crashes Involving Non-Working Traffic Lights

In most cases, the liable party will be another driver who ignored or disobeyed traffic laws. Sometimes the at-fault driver may try to say he or she did not know about the newer law. However, this is not an excuse. Drivers are required to stay informed about any changes to the laws. Even if the other driver was simply confused, he or she will likely still be liable for the crash.

Government Entities May Sometimes Be Liable

Though rare, there may be some circumstances where a government entity may be liable for a crash at a non-working traffic light. It depends on if there was a government entity that was responsible for repairs or ongoing maintenance. If a government agency knew or should have known about the broken light but did nothing to fix the problem – or warn motorists about it – then you may have a case.

Even if you do have a valid claim against a government entity, you must still prove there was negligence. This is just one really good reason to consider hiring a qualified attorney to help with your legal claim.

What if You Are Injured in a Crash Due to a Broken Traffic Light?

At an intersection, a broken or non-working traffic light can cause confusion and even more crashes. That said, you should treat this type of traffic accident like any other. Contact 9-1-1 to get the police and other help on the scene as soon as possible. Doing so will generate a police report, which can later help provide more details for a claim.

Once your injuries have been stabilized, we recommend that you seek legal help as soon as possible. A qualified attorney can fully investigate your claim, protect your interests and talk with insurers so you can focus on your recovery.

At Jay Trucks, we have the staff and resources and are ready to seek maximum compensation on your behalf. Call to get started today. Our staff can take your call anytime, night or day.

Proven Results. 989-244-0356