Should I Appear as a Witness for Traffic Accident?

Question:  I was hit from behind as I was stopped at a light. The police officer gave the other driver a ticket for the accident.  Even though the insurance repaired my car, I am still having pain and plan to make an injury claim.  However, the other driving is disputing the ticket and I got a subpoena to be a witness.  Should I appear?

Robert C. Slim’s Answer:  You certainly should appear.  If you don’t, then the case may either get dismissed, or the city attorney will probably make a pea bargain based upon “no contest” (also known as “nolo contendere”).  Under Texas law, a plea of “no contest” is not admissible in a civil case.  However, a guilty verdict or a guilty plea is admissible in a civil case.  If you appear, then you will show the city attorney that you are ready to go to trial.  If the other driver gets convicted, then that guilty verdict is very helpful in your injury claim just in case the other driver plans to dispute fault in the accident.  If you go to court, then the other driver will probably try to plea bargain. You might want to talk to the city attorney and insist that any plea bargain be based on a “guilty” plea.  The key here is to do whatever you can to get either a guilty verdict or a guilty plea.


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