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A Very Clear Negligence Per Se Argument: Running a Stoplight

Virtually all personal injury claims are based on a “theory of negligence.” For instance if your employer does a poor job supervising your coworkers and one of those coworkers runs over your foot with a forklift, the theory of negligence that you’d assert against them would be “negligent supervision.” The same concept applies to car accident cases, only Texas law recognizes that some types of misconduct are worse than just simple negligence, and that certain bad actions rise to the level of “negligence per se.”

One such court-approved negligence per se argument that can be used in Texas car accident cases is the argument that the other driver ran a stoplight. Another way to put it would be to say that if your accident was caused by a driver who ran a stoplight, the allegation you make against them counts as a negligence per se allegation rather than a plain old negligence allegation, which makes it easier for you to win your case. In this article, we’ll explain how it all works.


Questions answered on this page:

  • Which law does running a stop light violate in Texas?
  • What does a “per se” argument mean in my car accident?
  • How does hiring an attorney help me in my car accident?
  • Is running a red light considered negligence or negligence per se under Texas law?

What does negligence per se mean, exactly?

Ordinary negligence (the basis of most personal injury cases) is loosely defined as any careless act performed in an unreasonable manner that causes another person to suffer an injury. Another way to put it is to say that all persons are required to behave reasonably and to take reasonable steps to avoid hurting other people. This concept therefore says that all people are held to the “reasonable person standard,” which can be applied to thousands of different types of misconduct. If someone throws a brick off of an overpass, that’s negligence. If someone texts while they drive, that’s negligence, too. So on and so forth.

But what’s interesting is that certain wrongful acts are BOTH a violation of the reasonable person standard and they are a violation of codified law that was created by Texas lawmakers. The way the court sees it, if someone acts negligently (violating the reasonable person standard) and they violate a codified law, then their victims should be able to allege a type of super negligence, and that’s essentially what a negligence per se argument is. If a negligence argument is a bullet, a negligence per se argument is a silver bullet.

The takeaway here is that if someone runs a stoplight and hurts you, that’s negligence of a higher order than other bad things they may do behind the wheel.

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What the Statute Says on the Matter

When we think about the law and what’s considered illegal, there are some pretty obvious conclusions we could come to. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t shoplift. Don’t run a red light. And yet, those laws get broken every day. Put simply, not only is someone most likely going to end up hurting another driver or a pedestrian if they run a red light, but the fact is…it’s illegal. The Texas Transportation Code is quoted below:

Sec. 544.007. TRAFFIC-CONTROL SIGNALS IN GENERAL.
(d) An operator of a vehicle facing only a steady red signal shall stop at a clearly marked stop line. In the absence of a stop line, the operator shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. A vehicle that is not turning shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown. After stopping, standing until the intersection may be entered safely, and yielding right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully in an adjacent crosswalk and other traffic lawfully using the intersection, the operator may:
(1) turn right; or
(2) turn left, if the intersecting streets are both one-way streets and a left turn is permissible.


The law is clear, and prior court decisions have deemed violating that law an act of negligence per se. As such, if someone’s injured you by running a stoplight, then you have a strong negligence per se claim that you can file against them. The right attorney can help you navigate this part of the law and pursue compensation.

Why this Negligent Per Se Behavior Deserves Legal Justice

Pretty clearly, you can see that someone running a stoplight isn’t something to take lightly. The driver tends to be going at a very high speed while crossing through the intersection at a stop light, which can cause more than just scrapes and bruises but pretty severe injuries that may affect the rest of someone’s life. It might involve extensive medical bills, especially if the victim has suffered broken bones, internal organ damage, whiplash injuries or even traumatic brain injuries.

If you’re the victim, you’re probably just wanting to recover and move on with your life. We’ve seen time and time again that our clients really don’t want to go all the way to a courtroom to just get compensation for their injuries. That’s where we come in. If you hire an experienced Texas car accident attorney like Grossman Law Offices, your lawyer will know the statute and that the act of the defendant was negligence per se, is willing to go to bat for you to get you the most possible to help you recover, and is willing to go all the way to the courtroom if need be. All the while, letting you make the decision on how involved you want to be, whether you don’t want to know anything and just get the settlement or if you want to be present every step of the way.

The fact of the matter is, you are the reason these laws exist. The law that keeps someone from running a stop sign (or running a stoplight or loaning their vehicle to an unlicensed diver) is in place to protect other drivers (like yourself) and pedestrians from being harmed. If you’re hesitant to file a lawsuit, just imagine how your life might be if you have medical costs that no one is helping you with. As well, imagine if no one was holding the defendant responsible for his actions. Think about that for a second. If they’ve done it to you and see there are no real consequences, that driver may do it again.

Accidents With Government-Owned Vehicles: What You Need to Know Read More >

Any Experienced Car Accident Attorney Can Help Hold the Defendant Responsible

Even if the driver was just trying to make a yellow light and turned too late. Not only do you deserve compensation for your injuries that they’ve caused, but in all reality, this was against the law. Don’t let someone’s obvious negligence per se go unnoticed and unpunished. They’ll do it again if you let them get away without punishment. Our experienced car accident lawyers are ready to talk now: (855) 326-0000.


Related Articles For Further Reading:

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