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 the 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.
Below, we will discuss how a traffic ticket may affect your car accident claim, including:
In a car accident claim, or any kind of personal injury case, when a defendant violates the law, including a traffic law intended to keep the public safe, they are automatically considered to have breached their duty of care – as a matter of law, they are negligent.
This can have a significant impact on your car accident case, whether the other driver, you, or both parties were cited for a traffic violation.
When the other driver violates a traffic law that was intended to protect the public such as failure to yield, speeding, or disregarding a traffic signal, this may be considered negligence per se.
Depending on the circumstances, you may not be required to prove liability, although you will still need to prove:
It is not enough that they received a traffic ticket, however – they must also be convicted of the traffic ticket. 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 attorney on the Axelrod team 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 before the resolution of the defendant’s case.
If you are convicted of the traffic violation, it may be considered negligence per se, which may prevent you from recovering damages or reduce the amount of your damages at trial.
If you pay a fine on a ticket, you have been convicted and it will go on your record.
If you plead guilty, even if the fine is suspended, you have been convicted and it will go on your record.
If you fail to appear at your court date for a traffic ticket, you will be convicted in your absence, and it will go on your record.
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. Talk to your attorney before your initial court date because you may need to request a jury trial or take other action to avoid a conviction for the traffic offense.
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 damages in a lawsuit.
For example, if you were not wearing a seatbelt, it may negatively affect your case but not completely bar your recovery. Or you may have been speeding, but five or ten miles over the speed limit probably will not excuse the other driver’s conduct if they struck your vehicle after blowing through a red light.
If both drivers were cited by the officer for traffic offenses, you should consult with your auto accident lawyer who can decide whether you still have a viable case.
South Carolina follows a modified comparative negligence rule 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 that is assigned to you by the jurors.
If either party was given a traffic ticket after your car accident, it can have a significant impact on your case – it could make liability easier to prove, it could reduce the amount of your recovery after trial, or it could shut down your case.
Your SC auto accident lawyer on the Axelrod team will help you to determine who was liable for the crash and what to do if you received a traffic ticket after your car accident. Call now at 843-916-9300 or send us a message for a free case evaluation.