“I Didn’t Cause the Crash, But I Got The Ticket! Do I Still Have a Case If I’m Injured?”

It happens every once in a while: A client involved in a bad car crash through no fault of his or her own and is handed a citation for causing the collision by a deputy or trooper.

It happens every once in a while: A client involved in a bad car crash through no fault of his or her own and is handed a citation for causing the collision by a deputy or trooper.

Maybe you were taken away to the hospital by ambulance because of your injuries and you weren’t able to give your side of the story to the police regarding liability; maybe the investigating officer just didn’t believe you against the two other people in the other car who corroborated their story.

This is a predicament lawyers everywhere have experienced.  Investigative policing agencies aren’t infallible and are often underpaid and overworked. The result can sometimes be snap judgments in assessing liability that are frankly, wrong.

If you’re involved in a car collision that wasn’t your fault, you’re injured and you get a ticket, don’t panic! The burden of proof in traffic court and civil court are different, so a traffic infraction on your driving record cannot be used against you in civil court as proof of guilt if you make a claim for personal injuries.

However, if you or your attorney makes a claim against the other driver’s insurance company for injuries sustained and you do not fight the ticket, you can bet that insurance adjuster will presume guilt and either reject the claim outright, or assess the value based on a very subjective degree of comparative negligence. They may state that you were 90% at fault and offer you a settlement of 10% of their valuation of your case.

This doesn’t make it right, but it is a reality that might force your lawyer to file a lawsuit to litigate the issue of liability before getting onto the issue of your injuries.

To avoid this, if you are ticketed for a car collision that you know wasn’t your fault, fight the ticket. You can do so with or without a lawyer.  Simply go to the Clerk of Traffic court, enter your not-gulity plea and you will be notified of the traffic hearing. Bring your photographs, your witnesses (subpoena them if you cannot count on them to show up), any diagrams of the intersection (“Google Earth” is particularly good for this), and make sure to cross examine the police officer who ticketed you.

If the officer who arrested you doesn’t show up to Traffic Court, you or your lawyer should ask the Judge or Hearing Officer to dismiss the charge since the State cannot prove its case without its prime witness. There’s a better than even chance that the ticket will be dismissed.

We’ve prevailed on many cases when the client was about ready to give up because they got a ticket they thought they didn’t deserve. Don’t give up!

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