Impact of Traffic Tickets on Injury Claims Arising from Car Accidents
When a police officer investigates an auto crash, they may give one driver a traffic ticket, also known as a citation. If the officer issues a traffic citation, they are essentially creating a criminal case against the offending driver. If the other driver in a car wreck gets injured, they may bring an injury claim against the driver who received the traffic ticket. This creates a civil case.
As a result, many people wonder whether the outcome of a criminal case for traffic tickets impacts the outcome of a civil case for personal injury claims brought by injured drivers.
The short answer is no, a traffic ticket case result generally does not impact a personal injury case outcome. However, a guilty plea to a traffic ticket is admissible in a personal injury case. In a personal injury case arising from a car crash, the general rule is that the jury is not allowed to know whether either driver received a traffic ticket.
For example, Driver A runs a red light and crashes his car into Driver B’s car and injures her. A police officer arrives at the scene and issues a traffic citation to Driver A as a result. Driver A goes to court for the traffic ticket and pleads “not guilty,” but the judge finds him guilty and requires Driver A to pay a $100 fine as punishment.
Driver B then sues Driver A to receive compensation for her injuries. As such, the judge would not allow the jury to hear any evidence about Driver A’s traffic ticket, being found guilty, nor paying a fine.
The exception to the rule above is when a driver voluntarily pleads guilty to the traffic ticket. Referring to the example above, Driver A is admitting that he did, in fact, run the red light by pleading guilty. So, his admission of fault now becomes evidence in a personal injury case.
With this in mind, Driver B’s personal injury lawyer could admit into evidence a certified copy of Driver A’s guilty plea for the jury to see. In addition, the lawyer could cross-examine Driver A about his guilty plea to learn about the circumstances that lead to such a plea. What if Driver A simply paid the traffic ticket he received from the car collision? This question, among many others, could be addressed at a cross-examination in a personal injury case arising from a car crash.
The courts have ruled that paying a ticket fine without contesting the citation is equivalent to a guilty plea, so the traffic ticket would be admissible in Driver B’s injury case against Driver A.
If you have been injured due to the fault of another driver, the experienced injury lawyers at Hall & Collins Injury Law, LLC are waiting to help you! Just call (706) 670-2757 to speak with an Athens injury lawyer for your 100% FREE case consultation.