Traffic Tickets and Accident Fault

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After a car accident, determining who was at fault is very important. Car accident laws in all but 12 states (Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah) allow a party to file a claim against an at-fault driver for all personal injury and other damages arising from an accident. In the 12 states listed, the party responsible for the accident may also be held financially responsible, but only for serious injuries. In any case, when trying to make a claim and collect damages from a responsible at-fault driver, being able to prove fault is essential to getting compensation. This is why a traffic ticket given at the scene of an accident is so important. So, what are the traffic tickets accident rules?

Traffic Tickets and Auto Accidents

When police are called to the scene of an accident, they will survey the damage to the vehicles and the location where the accident occurred. They will speak to the parties who were in the accident as well as to any witnesses who are present. Based on the information that they obtain when doing all of these things, they will write up an accident report or incident report. They may also decide that one party broke one of the rules of the road and issue that party a ticket. For instance, if the police get to an accident scene and they find that a driver has been hit in the side of the vehicle, and that the accident occurred directly in front of a driveway, the police may conclude that the driver who came out of the driveway didn't look carefully before pulling out and hit the driver going straight. Witnesses and the people involved in the accident might confirm this occurred. If the police were reasonably confident that that was what happened, then they would give the driver who came out of the driveway a ticket for failure to yield. 

The person who suffered the injuries or damage as a result of the party responsible would then be able to use the traffic ticket in order to prove fault if the following situations occur:

  • The person who failed to yield coming out of the driveway later decides to change his or her story and argue that really the driver going straight caused the accident.
  • The driveway driver might claim that the driver going straight changed lanes when the car was already pulling out of the driveway, thus suddenly getting in the way of the oncoming vehicle and getting hit. 

In these two scenarios, the driver going straight could point to the accident report and the traffic ticket to show that the police didn't see things that way. This could be good, solid evidence that the other driver isn't telling the truth or isn't being forthcoming about the accident. 

Making a Claim

Having a traffic ticket issued that can be used to help prove fault is a very good thing for a person who wants to collect car accident damages. Such damages are collected in one of two ways: through civil litigation or through settlement, and the traffic ticket can come in handy in both methods. 

Settlement depends upon the other party accepting fault and making a reasonable offer of money to the potential plaintiff in exchange for a release of liability from lawsuits. If a potential defendant knows that a traffic ticket exists saying he/she violated the rules of the road, the potential defendant will be less likely to contest fault and be more nervous about the plaintiff getting a large jury verdict. Therefore, he or she will be more likely to settle. A lawsuit depends upon the plaintiff being able to prove that the other driver was negligent and the negligence caused harm. The ticket can be used as evidence of negligence that helps the plaintiff to win his case. 

When a claim for personal injury damages is made, the monetary award may be significant. It can include medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and emotional distress, among other factors. Having evidence to show what happened can, thus, mean the difference between thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars in damages and no recovery at all. This is part of why it is so essential to call the police in any accident. 

Getting Help

If you have been involved in a traffic accident, you should strongly consider getting a lawyer to help you. A lawyer can assess the evidence and information available in order to determine what your best course of action is for protecting your post-car accident rights.