In and of itself, a traffic ticket is only an allegation that the party failed to obey traffic laws or rules of the road. If the recipient pleads guilty to the charge, then that plea can serve as proof of a violation. Further, if the violation led to a car accident, the traffic ticket and guilty plea can go a long way toward proving liability and collecting damages from the ticket’s recipient.
At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. in New York and New Jersey, we always investigate and analyze traffic tickets– issued after auto accidents with injuries to their clients. Whether traffic tickets were issued to only one or both parties, the charges in those tickets often fill in the gaps. They help to explain how a car accident happened and which party’s actions precipitated it.
Are Traffic Tickets Admissible as Evidence in Car Accident Lawsuits?
Suppose the person who received the ticket pleads guilty or is found guilty of the charges following a trial, and the charges are relevant to the accident. A court will probably allow an injured party to introduce the guilty plea in a subsequent car accident lawsuit for damages. If the charges do not relate to the accident (e.g., the ticket recipient was cited for driving with an expired license), then the guilty plea will likely not be allowed as evidence.
If, however, a ticket recipient pleads “no contest” to a citation in traffic court, that plea cannot be used as proof of liability in a car accident lawsuit. Given this, you should always consult with a car accident lawyer before entering any plea to a traffic ticket following an auto accident. If you do not enter the correct plea or defend the charges properly, a guilty verdict or plea can cause greater problems if you face a civil lawsuit for damages and injuries.
Are Traffic Tickets Absolute Proof of Liability in a Personal Injury Car Accident Lawsuit?
To recover compensation for losses and injuries sustained in a car accident, the injured party must demonstrate that the other party:
- Owed a certain duty to the injured party
- Failed to adhere to that duty
- The failure was the direct and proximate cause of the accident, and
- The accident was the source of injuries and losses.
A guilty plea to a traffic ticket might be relevant to show that a party owed a duty, namely, to follow established rules of the road, but failed to adhere to that obligation. The injured party’s personal injury lawyers will still need to show proximate cause and connect that cause to injuries and losses.
What Happens if a Party Is Found Not Guilty of the Charges in a Traffic Ticket?
A finding of not guilty in a traffic ticket case does not mean that the recipient cannot be found liable for damages in a car accident lawsuit. Criminal trials follow stricter liability standards than civil car accident lawsuits. A party can still be found responsible for injuries and property losses and can be ordered to pay damages even if traffic ticket charges are dismissed.
How Else Can Traffic Tickets Be Used in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
In connection with tickets and citations that police issue after an accident, they and other authorities who investigate car accidents frequently re-create the circumstances that led to the collision in an accident report. Car accident lawyers often use those reports as a foundation to describe the circumstances of an accident and to assign liability to the party that caused it.
Call the Car Accident and Injury Lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman
At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C., we represent injured car accident victims in Rockland and Bergen Counties and elsewhere in New York and New Jersey. If you received a ticket after an accident, we could help you make the safest plea to the charges. If the other party received a ticket, we would follow up with a thorough investigation of why that ticket was issued. We would use the results of that investigation in a personal injury lawsuit to recover your damages.
Please see our website or call us after you have suffered injuries in an auto accident, even if no tickets were issued to any parties. We will fight tirelessly to recover the damages you deserve.