In Virginia, does a green light at an intersection mean that the driver facing the green light can proceed through the intersection without checking to be sure that there is no approaching traffic from the intersecting street?

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The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.

No. The Virginia Code says that a green light indicates that traffic shall move in the direction of the signal and remain in motion as long as the green signal is given, but such traffic must yield to other vehicles and pedestrians lawfully in the intersection. Furthermore, the Virginia Supreme Court has written that a green light is not an unqualified command for a driver to proceed in the direction indicated under any and all circumstances. Instead, the green light is only a command to proceed with reasonable care.

The duty of a driver facing a green light at an intersection to proceed with reasonable care means that the driver has a duty to maintain a reasonable lookout and otherwise exercise ordinary care to avoid a collision, say our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.  Amongst other things, such driver passing through an intersection under a green light must look in all directions for vehicles, persons, and conditions that would affect his or her driving, to see what a reasonable person would see, and to react as a reasonable person would act to avoid a collision. That means that if another vehicle is passing through the intersection under a red light, the driver of the vehicle entering the intersection under a green light has a duty to take ordinary care to avoid a collision with the vehicle proceeding under the red light.

If a person is injured in a car accident involving a vehicle that passed through the intersection under a red light, striking the injured person’s vehicle as it entered the intersection under a green light, the injured person could be barred from recovery, if the court determines that the injured person did not look for approaching vehicles before proceeding into the intersection. Even though the driver of the vehicle that entered the intersection under the red light acted negligently, the failure of the injured person to look for approaching traffic before entering the intersection may constitute contributory negligence, meaning the injured person could not recover for his or her injuries sustained in the car accident. To learn more about contributory negligence in Virginia, click here.

Questions regarding the duties of drivers at an intersection and contributory negligence are specific to the facts of the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to consult on or our personal injury lawyers.  We can assess whether the injured person satisfied his or her duties to maintain a proper lookout and to exercise ordinary care to avoid a collision.  Our lawyers can also determine whether there is a legitimate basis for a defendant in the potential personal injury lawsuit to make a contributory negligence defense. In cases where a contributory negligence defense may be applicable, our lawyers can assess whether there are any exceptions to the contributory negligence doctrine that may apply, such as the last clear chance doctrine, proximate causation, etc.

Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.

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