Two of the first questions that come to everyone’s mind immediately after a car accident are “Wait, did I actually violate any traffic rule?” and “Will I get a traffic ticket for this?”
Contrary to the popular belief, police do not issue traffic citations merely because a car accident occurred. It often happens that no one was at fault and no one violated a traffic law when a collision occurred. But when motor vehicle accidents happen because one of two of the parties violated a traffic law, a police officer may issue a traffic ticket when there is indisputable evidence that you or the other motorist violated a traffic rule.
Does a traffic ticket prohibit you from recovering damages?
It often happens that police officers issue traffic tickets for something that did not contribute to the car accident. But being issued a traffic citation is not the end of the world. Our Palmdale car accident attorney from the Compass Law Group, LLP explains that just because you were issued and signed a traffic citation after a collision, it does not mean that you are prohibited from seeking compensation for your injuries and damages if the other driver’s actions are predominantly responsible for causing the accident.
“Even if you were issued a traffic ticket for something that merely contributed to causing the car crash, you may still be able to recover damages by filing a personal injury claim,” explains our experienced car accident attorney. “That is possible because California follows a system of pure comparative negligence, which entitles you to seek compensation after an accident even if your negligence contributed to the accident, though the amount of damages will be reduced by the percentage of your own fault.”
Situations in which you may be issued a traffic citation after a car accident
These are some of the most common situations in which one or two of the drivers may be issued a traffic citation after a car crash was reported to police:
- There is immediate evidence that you were speeding (witness accounts, tire marks, the severity of the collision, police’s speedometer, etc.);
- You rear-ended the other motorist (which usually indicates that you either failed to maintain a safe distance or were speeding);
- Obvious violation of a traffic law (if a car accident occurred where it could only occur had you violated a traffic rule, you will be issued a traffic ticket; for example, a head-on collision on a one-way street);
- You refuse to take the field sobriety test (if police has a reason to believe that you were intoxicated at the time of the collision, you may be issued a ticket and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs);
- If the breath test shows that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than 0.08 percent, you will be arrested and charged with a DUI.
Is it possible to fight a traffic ticket after a car crash?
While you have every right to speak with the police officer who wants to issue you a traffic citation and explain your side of the story, it is advised to accept a traffic ticket once it has been issued without getting aggressive, angry or raising your voice. Talking the officer out of giving you a ticket is not always possible, and may even get you in trouble if the officer believes that you are obstructing a police officer.
Our Palmdale car accident attorney says it is preferable to limit your conversation with the police until you get a chance to speak to your lawyer. Also, avoid providing a full statement to the police or admitting fault at the scene of the accident. Let an experienced lawyer investigate your case and determine fault.
Once you have been issued a traffic citation, you may be able to fight a ticket in court. It makes sense to challenge a traffic ticket when pleading guilty to that ticket would result in the loss of your right to seek damages or make you predominantly at fault for the car crash.