Many people believe that because the other driver got the ticket, it is “automatic liability” against the other driver. That is not the case.
To be sure, the fact that the other driver got a ticket is helpful information in negotiating with the insurance company, but it is far from the be-all and end-all. Here is what the law actually is:
When a driver receives a traffic ticket after an accident, the fact that there was a ticket issued is not admissible evidence in a later civil case involving that accident UNLESS the driver receiving the ticket pleads guilty to the charges in the ticket in traffic court. This is true even if there is a trial in traffic court and the driver receiving the ticket is convicted.
So what do you need to know about traffic tickets after a car accident?
- If you were the one receiving the ticket, we strongly recommend that you plead not guilty to the charge in traffic court. If you do so, a jury in a later civil trial will never learn that you received a ticket, even if you are convicted of the charges in traffic court. Obviously, if the charges are serious, you may wish to get specific legal advice before going this route.
- If the other driver was the one receiving the ticket, you want to be sure to show up in traffic court. When the complaining witness (that would be you) does not show up in traffic court, the prosecuting attorney will routinely dismiss the charges. Showing up in traffic court increases the chance of securing a guilty plea to the charges which helps your chances of winning your car accident lawsuit.
If you have any questions regarding this, please feel free to call our office at (312) 263-1080. The call is free and there is no obligation to hire us if you do call.