How Car Accident Citations Impact Insurance Claims
When a police officer responds to a car accident, they’ll first determine whether anyone is injured. Next, they’ll obtain statements from the drivers. If the drivers blame one another, the police officer may interview eyewitnesses. If there aren’t any eyewitnesses, the police officer may inspect the collision damage, skid marks and road gouge marks. At that point, the police officer will typically issue a car accident citation to the at-fault driver.
Call our Atlanta car accident lawyers today at (404) 419-6674 to discuss the at fault driver’s traffic citation. Also, you may fill-out our online contact form to schedule a free case review with our team. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got the answers.
What Are The Ticketed Driver’s Plea Options?
The ticketed driver’s car accident citation contains a court hearing date. That hearing is known as an “arraignment.” At the arraignment, the ticketed driver must enter a plea. There are three plea options:
Nolo Contendere Plea
The ticketed driver can enter a “nolo contendere” plea. That plea is often available if the ticketed driver hasn’t received any recent traffic citations. A “nolo contendere” plea means that the ticketed driver disputes fault, but concedes that there’s enough evidence to convict them. They still have to pay a fine and court costs. However, they are only assessed a few penalty points on their license. Additionally, they can dispute fault if the injured party files a civil lawsuit against them.
Sometimes, the prosecutor won’t permit the ticketed driver to enter a nolo contendere plea. In that case, the ticketed driver must plead guilty, or not guilty. A guilty plea means that the ticketed driver accepts fault. The driver is assessed penalty points on their license. They also have to pay a fine and court costs. If the injured party sues them in a civil lawsuit, their guilty plea can be used against them.
Not Guilty Plea
If the ticketed driver enters a not guilty plea, the court will schedule a bench trial to resolve the car accident citation. During that trial, the court will listen to testimony from the ticketed driver and the police officer. If the court decides to convict the ticketed driver, the driver will typically have to pay a large fine and have additional penalty points assessed against their license. Therefore, many ticketed drivers prefer to plead guilty if they’re unable to enter a “nolo contendere” plea. Despite what you might imagine, if the judge convicts the ticketed driver, that conviction can’t be used against the driver in a subsequent civil lawsuit.
What If The Ticketed Driver Disputes Fault After I Sue Them?
Some ticketed drivers pay their car accident citations because they agree they’re at fault. Other ticketed drivers pay their citations because they want to avoid the hassle of appearing in court. An injured victim won’t know the ticketed driver’s true motivation for paying the ticket unless they sue the ticketed driver for damages and take that driver’s deposition.
If the ticketed driver testifies that they weren’t at fault, the injured victim’s lawyer should ask the driver whether they told the police officer they weren’t at fault. Some drivers will “take that bait” and concoct an elaborate lie about how they told the police officer everything that the injured victim did wrong, but the police officer didn’t listen to them. If they do that, the injured victim’s lawyer should investigate whether the police officer was wearing a body camera or audio recorder at the time they interviewed the drivers about the wreck. Then, the lawyer should obtain that footage to determine if the ticketed driver is lying. If the ticketed driver lied under oath, the jury will never believe that they weren’t at fault.
If the ticketed driver did dispute fault at the collision scene, the injured victim’s lawyer should depose the police officer. That way, the jury can hear the evidence that persuaded the police officer to issue the car accident citation. The injured victim’s lawyer should also depose any eyewitnesses.
What If The Police Officer Didn’t Issue A Car Accident Citation?
Despite what you might expect, police officers aren’t required to issue any car accident citations. If the police officer didn’t cite any driver, the insurance company may deny your claim. However, if you hire the right personal injury lawyer, your lawyer can help you prove that the other driver was at fault.
For instance, your lawyer may hire an accident reconstructionist to prove fault. An accident reconstructionist will typically do the following:
- Inspect the vehicle damage photos.
- Download electronic data from one or more vehicles (if the vehicles were equipped with data recorders) to determine the impact speed and the impact forces.
- Review the parties’ testimony to determine the direction they were each traveling in at the time of impact, the number of collision impacts, and the relative speed of each vehicle.
- Inspect the collision scene and measure skid marks (to determine closing speed) and gouge marks (to determine which traffic lane the collision occurred in).
Once the accident reconstructionist analyzes all of that information, they will explain how the collision occurred. That way, you can hold the at-fault driver accountable even though the police officer didn’t issue a car accident citation.
Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers Can Help You
At Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, we know that most ticketed drivers will attempt to blame the injured victim. Sometimes, the ticketed driver genuinely believes they weren’t at fault. Other times, the insurance adjuster or defense lawyer urges the ticketed driver to blame the injured victim in an effort to deny the victim fair compensation for their losses.
We won’t let the ticketed driver or their representatives get away with those lies.
First, we’ll obtain any written reports that explain how the collision occurred, such as the police report and the 911 transcript. Next, we’ll obtain the police officer’s body cam and/or dashcam footage if it’s available. Then, we’ll track down any eyewitnesses and obtain their recorded statements.
If the ticketed driver or their insurance company refuses to accept full responsibility, we’ll sue the ticketed driver. Then, we’ll depose the police officer, drivers, and eyewitnesses. If necessary, we’ll hire an accident reconstructionist to model how the collision occurred.
If the insurance company still won’t pay you what you deserve, we’ll take the ticketed driver to trial and ask the jury to hold them accountable.