no working stop lights, legal implications?

Messages
6,614
Location
southeast US
I live in a state that requires no safety inspections and police is too lazy to do any policing. Lots of junk cars on the roads, especially in urban ares. The other day I followed a domestic minivan with none of the stoplighs working. I barely stopped in time when it stopped suddenly for no good reason. Would I be liable for rearending it?
 
Messages
990
Location
MA
How can you prove the lights weren't working before you hit it? Other driver: "The lights were working before. They must have broke when he hit my car." Your screwed.
 
Messages
2,543
Location
Rochester, MI, US, World
If you could prove to the officer that shows up on the scene (hypothetically, if you hit someone) that none of the brake lights illuminated, I'm sure you'd have a case of some sort. But proving that would be nearly impossible, as stated above. People are idiots, and some shouldn't be allowed to walk, let alone drive cars that are falling apart...
 
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Messages
871
Location
MO
There are ways to prove if the lights were working or not before impact. The pieces of the light/bulbs have to be collected, examined and tested, the electrical wires/connections have to be examined and tested, and also the control signals to the lights have to be checked. Most of the time, if things are not completely destroyed, it can be determined if the lights were working or not.
 
Messages
4,844
Location
Saskatchewan
Don't follow so close. It really shouldn't be an issue unless visibility is very poor. That said, they should remove vehicles like that from the road and fine the driver.
 
Messages
558
Location
near Chicago
I doubt that your insurance would bother investigating. With tungsten light bulbs, the lit filaments will be distorted much more during a strong impact. I don't know how much impact it takes. Don't expect the police to do this investigation or seize the cars so that your investigators can do their tests. If the car has LED taillights, that is not going to work.
 
Messages
18,624
Location
Michigan
Originally Posted By: AandPDan
How can you prove the lights weren't working before you hit it? Other driver: "The lights were working before. They must have broke when he hit my car." Your screwed.
+1
 
Messages
13,026
Location
Middlesex County CT
Quote:
I followed a domestic minivan with none of the stoplighs working. I barely stopped in time when it stopped suddenly for no good reason.
You are following too closely. Why he is stopping is irrelevant.
 
Messages
1,724
Location
Glen Ellyn, IL
They've all long since rusted away, but first-gen Ford Escorts were notorious for having no brake lights. I learned to leave a LOT of extra room ahead of me when following one.
 
Messages
5,153
Location
MW
A few months ago I almost smacked a new Acura SUV which had no functional brake lights. I have no idea how that could have happened to an almost brand new car.
 
Messages
10,800
Location
Jupiter, Florida
The brake light switch has failed. The bulbs are probably intact. You'd be at fault, but the other driver could also get a citation for faulty equipment.
 
Messages
3,163
Location
Chicago Area
If someone was inclined to investigate they could prove it, or if you had witnesses to back up your story. But given stretched police budgets, insurance companies squeezing every penny, legal fees that would ensue, your insurance company would probably decide to accept the citation you'd get for "following too closely" or whatever variant your state uses and pay the bills while jacking up your rates.
 
Messages
36,531
Location
ME
Your story would probably be interpreted as "I wasn't paying attention" or "I didn't see the guy". (IE, "I didn't see his brake lights") There is a (rightfully) strong bias for getting the tailgater in a rear ender collision. There are often not criminal charges pressed against drivers who hit motoryclists/ bicyclists/ pedestrians but "didn't see them". Presumably they have to pay out for wrongful death in a lawsuit, however. Personally I see a lot of 2000 era trailblazers with only the LED CHMSL working. I think the turn signal switch is eating the power to the main lights. Any car engineer with any redundancy in mind splits the CHMSL feed off as soon as possible, though this doesn't fix a broken switch. If I ran the world, a broken brake light switch would keep you from getting out of "Park". It does, sometimes; let's make it all the time. (Or are people so clever they override things by starting up in neutral?)
 
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