When the police respond to an auto accident, they will often cite one or both parties with traffic violations such as speeding, following too close, or failure to yield. Sometimes a driver will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) following a car wreck.
When the responding officer determines that the other party is at fault it may help to conclusively establish liability. When a responding officer cites you for a traffic violation, it does not automatically mean that you are barred from recovery but you should have an experienced auto accident lawyer review your case immediately.
Per Se Negligence and Traffic Citations
When a driver violates a law that was intended to protect the public such as failure to yield, speeding, or disregarding a traffic signal, this may be considered per se negligence. Because the at-fault driver is found to be negligent by law, the only issues remaining for the injured party to prove are causation and the amount of damages. Although the other driver may be negligent, you must still prove that their negligence was the proximate or immediate cause of the damages that you suffered.
Although a driver has been issued a ticket for a traffic violation, it is not a conviction until the driver either pleads guilty and pays a fine or is convicted by a jury at trial. Your auto accident lawyer at Axelrod & Associates, P.A. will monitor the at-fault driver's court appearances and get the necessary documentation to prove that they have been convicted of the traffic violation and are therefore negligent in your case. This is particularly important in drunk driving accident cases where the court and prosecutor are required to notify any victims of court appearances and to consult with victims prior to the resolution of the defendant's case.
What if I Have a Traffic Ticket?
Do not pay a fine or admit guilt on any ticket that you have been issued until you have consulted with your personal injury lawyer. Officers make mistakes, and sometimes they will issue citations without knowing all the facts. You may have a valid defense to the citation, and, if we can establish that you are not guilty of the violation, it may foreclose the other driver's arguments as to fault or comparative negligence.
There may be circumstances where you were issued a citation but you are still able to recover in a lawsuit. For example, if you were not wearing a seatbelt, it may negatively affect your case but not completely bar your recovery. If both drivers were cited by the officer for different offenses, you should consult with your auto accident lawyer who can decide whether you still have a viable case. South Carolina follows the rule of comparative negligence which means that you are barred from recovery if you are more than 50% at fault for the auto accident. If a jury finds that you were less than 50% at fault, you can still recover, but your damages will be decreased by the percentage of negligence found by the jurors.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, schedule a free consultation with a Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer on the Axelrod team. Call us at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form today.