U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the City of Chicago’s method of using cameras to ticket drivers who fail to obey red lights, according to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Judge Gettlemam ruled that the plaintiffs complaint failed to state claims based on equal protection and substantive due process.
How does this ruling affect Chicago personal injury lawyers? I think the law could resolve a lot of disputed liability personal injury claims and lawsuits. A contested red light case is hard and problematic to prove up in court. It is a “he said, she said” case and you never know who a jury is going to believe.
Last month I settled a red light personal injury car accident case from a 2004 accident. The plaintiff and an independent witness said the plaintiff had the green light, but the defendant and a different independent witness said the defendant had the green light. I recommended that my client settle the case, as he only had a 50% chance of getting past the jury on the issue of liability. If this case happened in front of a traffic camera, I could have subpoenaed the City for the photos, and the case could have resolved years ago.
I am guessing that this ruling by Judge Gettleman might not be popular in the court of public opinion. I actually received a red light camera ticket in the mail last summer, and I was really angry. The City waited months after the “alleged” violation to send the ticket, and I couldn’t even remember being in the area on the date in question, let alone remember whether I ran a light.
That being said, even though I was annoyed, since then I have been a lot more careful and conservative when deciding whether to proceed through a yellow light. (My wife has called me a wimp several times for jamming on the breaks at a yellow light). If these cameras are posted in more and more locations, they could lead to safer roads. (Traffic cameras have recently been activated in the City of Waukegan).