Car accidents are traumatic experiences altogether, but receiving a ticket as a result of the accident can make you feel even worse. However, getting a ticket doesn’t always mean that you are at-fault for the accident. Nor does it mean that you have lost the ability to sue for your injuries. If you don’t handle the situation properly, however, you can ruin any chances that you have of succeeding in a lawsuit.
Why Getting a Ticket Doesn’t Mean That You Were At-Fault
Just because you received a ticket doesn’t mean that you caused the accident. Sometimes the police simply get it wrong. This is usually because they didn’t have all the facts at the time when they issued the ticket. If you believe that you were not at-fault, it is important that you let the officer know and that you present to him whatever evidence you can to persuade him not to issue you a ticket.
Furthermore, you may have been ticketed for something totally unrelated to the cause of the accident, such as lack of insurance or an expired driver’s license. But, you can only be held liable for acts of negligence that are ‘proximate’ causes for someone’s injuries. In this case, it would be hard for anyone to argue that your lack of insurance actually caused anyone to be injured.
Also, unless the ticketing officer actually observed the crash with his own eyes – which would be very rare – police reports are generally inadmissible as evidence because they are based on hearsay. This means that your having received a ticket is insufficient proof of fault and that you cannot be held liable solely on the basis of having received a ticket after the accident.
Finally, Missouri adheres to the theory of comparative negligence. Even if you were partly at-fault, you can still sue the other party for your own damages. Missouri follows the “pure” comparative fault rule, whereby your recovery will be reduced by your own percentage of fault.
For example, if you suffer $10,000 in damages as a result of an accident and are found to be 40 percent at-fault for the collision, you may only recover from the other party $6,000 ($10,000 minus 40 percent), or 60 percent of your damages. Likewise, the other party would be entitled to recover his damages from you, but reduced by his own percentage of fault.
If you go to traffic court and plead guilty to the ticket or pay the fine, you are, in effect, admitting to being liable for the accident, which will almost certainly be used against you in court to suggest that you were primarily or completely at-fault.
While this will not bar you from bringing a lawsuit for damages against the other driver, it will significantly decrease your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve, if any.
Before going to traffic court on any ticket that you have received as a result of an accident, you should consult with an experienced car accident attorney to make sure that your right to pursue compensation is preserved. An experienced attorney can determine if you still have a right to be compensated for your damages, despite having received a ticket.
Consult With a Professional
Don’t let the fact that you received a ticket after the accident ruin your chances of being compensated fairly for your medical bill, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has been in an accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. We offer no-cost and no-obligation consultations. We will discuss your case and determine how best to help you. Typically, you will only be charged if compensation is recovered for you.