A traffic ticket by itself only alleges that the offender has violated traffic laws or rules of the road. If the offender pleads guilty to the charge, then that plea can serve as proof of the violation. As a result, the traffic ticket and guilty plea can help prove liability and collect damages from the ticket’s recipient if a car accident results from the violation.
When a person is in a car accident and is ticketed for something that relates to the cause of the accident, how they plead can impact their case. When you plead guilty or are found guilty of that violation, the conviction will probably be admissible in the trial of the personal injury case. Examples would be following too closely, speeding, and failing to yield the right-of-way.
Some crashes result in multiple traffic tickets, some related to the crash and others unrelated. Non-having automobile insurance and expired inspections are examples of unrelated violations.
Are Traffic Tickets Admissible as Evidence in Car Accident Lawsuits?
If the person to whom the ticket was issued pleads guilty or is found guilty in a trial, and the traffic violation was a factor in the accident, then a court may allow the injured party to present the guilty plea in a car accident lawsuit as evidence. If the charge is not related to the accident (for example, if the recipient was charged with driving with an expired license), then the guilty plea is likely not permitted to be entered as evidence.
That being said, if the defendant has pled no contest to a traffic citation in traffic court, that plea cannot be used as proof of liability in a car accident lawsuit. So, if you are living, for example, in Arizona, always consult with an Arizona traffic ticket lawyer before entering any plea to a traffic ticket following an auto accident. If you enter the wrong plea or fail to defend yourself properly, you will more than likely be found guilty or take a plea that has more serious consequences if you are also dealing with a civil lawsuit for damages or injuries.
Are Traffic Tickets Absolute Proof of Liability in a Personal Injury Car Accident Lawsuit?
To collect damages for injuries or losses incurred in a car accident, an injured party must demonstrate that the other party acted negligently or wrongfully.
- Duty is owed to the injured party
- Failed to uphold their duty
- The cause of the accident was the direct and proximate result of the failure.
A guilty plea to a traffic ticket may help establish that the party owed a duty to follow the rules of the road. Yet the plaintiff’s injury lawyer must also prove proximate cause, proving that the proximate cause is connected to the injuries and losses.
What Happens if a Party Is Found Not Guilty of the Charges in a Traffic Ticket?
Being found not guilty in a traffic ticket case does not guarantee that you cannot be found liable for damages in a car accident lawsuit. Criminal trials require stricter liability standards than civil car accident lawsuits. Even if a party is exonerated of traffic violations, it may still be found liable for damages caused by injuries and losses to property and ordered to pay.
What If You are the One who Received a Traffic Ticket After the Accident?
You can also be held liable if you were the person who received the traffic ticket. Should this happen, the same rules apply to you as to the defendant. You should consult an attorney who is experienced in injury law if you are ticketed to determine how the ticket may affect your case.
How Else Can Traffic Tickets Be Used in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Sometimes after an accident, the police and other authorities who investigate car accidents re-create the circumstances that led to the collision and summarize them in an accident report. These reports often help the lawyer representing the driver who caused the accident to determine liability.
When the Defendant Pleads Guilty
When a defendant pleads guilty to a traffic citation, the guilty plea and the violation should be admissible in a personal injury trial. If the defendant pleads no contest, the plea should not be admissible in a personal injury case. If the defendant is found guilty, he or she will be punished the same as if he or she pled guilty.
For example, if the prosecutor dismisses the plea, the conduct is still on the table. This situation would result in the conduct, but not the ticket or plea, to be heard by the jury.
What is a No Contest?
A plea of no contest admits the state’s charges, but because it is not an admission of guilt, it can’t be used against you in a civil damage trial. Plead no contest and this will mean you did not contest the charge against you, and the plea cannot be used against you in any type of trial.
What Steps to Take When the Other Driver is ticketed?
As a result of an accident caused by the other driver, you might need to follow up with any traffic tickets that the other driver received. If an accident happened in Arizona, then the Arizona district attorney may ask you to testify. Be honest and forthcoming with your testimony if you are asked to testify or accepted a subpoena. If you testify, contact your injury attorney. Your injury lawyer can help you prepare for your testimony.
A person is often called to testify, and the trial never happens, either because the case is dismissed or the officer fails to appear, or because the court cannot handle the number of cases on trial that day. Ask the district Chandler DUI attorney whether the case will go to trial or if it might be dismissed if you are asked to testify.
You may want to ask your injury criminal defense attorney in Phoenix about monitoring the criminal trial if your injuries are severe and you require a significant amount of medical care.