What if you get into a car accident and the police officer issues a ticket or citation. What effect does that have on your personal injury claim?
When Does the Officer Issue a Ticket?
When a police officer comes to an accident scene, they may not even make a report. For car accidents in the Dallas area, a report will be made if the accident is severe enough.
The officer may also issue a citation if the other driver violated the rules of the road. That citation may be for disregarding a stop sign or stop light, following too closely, or a number of many other violations. The officer may also write a ticket for a non-moving violation such as not having a valid drivers license or insurance or the vehicle.
However, the officer will only write a ticket if the evidence is strong enough to stand up in municipal court. Although the officer has the discretion to write a ticket, it is not required. It is completely up to the officer.
What if a ticket is issued?
It depends on who gets the ticket and what the ticket is for. If you were injured in a car accident and you get a ticket for causing the accident, then you have a problem. That generally means that the officer believes that the accident was your fault. The accident report will probably make that same conclusion when it is complete. However, if the other driver gets the ticket for causing the accident, then that helps your case.
Sometimes, the officer may issue a ticket for a non-moving violation, such as not having a drivers license. Because since it is a non-moving violation, it does not effect who is ultimately responsible for the accident.
For example, the officer may believe that the other driver followed too closely and rear-ended you. But the officer may also give you a ticket for not having a valid drivers license. As a legal matter, your ticket will not make difference on your right to make a personal injury claim. That is because the officer concluded that the accident was the other driver’s fault. The fact that you did not have had a drivers license is irrelevant to the other driver’s fault. The other driver is liable for their negligence regardless of whether or not you had a license.
Can the ticket be used in my injury case?
Yes and No. If the ticket is dismissed or the defendant is found not guilty, then you may not use the ticket in your injury case.
However, if the other driver pleads guilty or is found guilty, then you may use the ticket to support your civil case. In fact, a finding of “guilty” on the ticket is conclusive evidence of the other driver’s fault in the civil case.
But most people plead “Nolo Contendre.” This is also know as a “No Contest” plea. In those circumstances, the driver is usually given a short period of probation and then the ticket gets dismissed. Therefore, the ticket is not admissible against the other driver in your injury case.
So, when you see that ticket was issued, it can be helpful in convincing the insurance company that their driver is at fault. But as a legal matter, a ticket rarely comes into play if your injury case goes to court.