No two car accidents are the same. Some are simple, and the subsequent insurance claims resolve quickly. Others are complex and can lead to lawsuits that last years. In any case, a police officer reporting to the scene of an accident may or may not issue a ticket for a traffic violation, based largely on their personal interpretation of the accident.
Though a ticket may seem to firmly establish who was at fault for an accident, it’s important to remember that in a personal injury lawsuit, the ticket itself is not admissible as evidence. While the police officer’s report at the scene as well as their testimony may be used to determine negligence in a car accident case, the actual citation may not.
When you are dealing with the aftermath of a car accident, get help from a car accident lawyer in Chicago with the experience to suit your case. Langdon & Emison has been serving the victims of car accidents in Will County, Kane County, Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, and other areas near Chicago for over 30 years, and will seek the maximum possible damages in your case.
When does an officer issue a ticket?
When the police arrive at the scene of an accident, they will likely begin an investigation interviewing drivers, witnesses, and relevant bystanders. They should examine the scene and consider the explanations offered by the people they interview and get a general idea of how the accident occurred. They are also likely to consider speed limits, weather conditions, driver intoxication, vehicle damage, and more to determine if a traffic violation played a role in the accident.
If the responding officer sees indications of speeding, tailgating, driving under the influence, distracted or reckless driving, or any other traffic violation, they will issue a ticket to the offending party. In some car accidents, both drivers may be issued a ticket, while in others neither driver will receive a ticket. The issuance of a ticket is based solely on the reporting officer’s judgment and may not accurately reflect fault in the accident. If an officer fails to issue a ticket when you believe the other driver was at fault, a seasoned local attorney can help you prove negligence and get compensation for your losses.
Note that the issuance of a ticket is not tantamount to a proven charge, either. It is merely a declaration of the charge itself and the recipient can argue the ticket. Only once the recipient has paid the ticket or been found guilty of the charge in court can the allegations embedded within the ticket be considered material fact.
Simply put, a ticket is not the final say on whether someone committed a traffic violation.
How can a traffic ticket affect a car accident case?
The primary way a traffic ticket can impact your Chicago car accident case is through the negotiating process with an insurance company. As explained above, a traffic citation is not admissible as evidence when fighting to recover damages in a personal injury case. However, outside of court, a traffic citation is likely to put pressure on the driver’s insurance to settle. This can be very useful, particularly when combined with the negotiating tactics an experienced personal injury lawyer will employ.
Insurance companies are well-known to use every method at their disposal to try to get you to settle for less than you deserve. An overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to another driver can significantly reduce the frustrating techniques their insurance company may throw at you, leading to a quicker, more satisfying settlement.
Even without a traffic citation, a Chicago car accident attorney can boost your chances of successfully recovering the maximum damages possible without needing to go to court.
Determining Fault When a Ticket Was Not Issued
When a police officer issues a traffic ticket fault is not automatically placed on the person who was cited. The modified comparative negligence statute in Illinois determines that a person may not seek to recover damages in a lawsuit in a case where they are determined to be 51% or more responsible for the accident. If a car accident case goes to court, a judge or jury will break down the events leading to the accident to determine what percentage of blame to assign to each party.
During this procedure, a citation is not considered evidence of fault. Rather, the specific evidence uncovered during investigations by insurance companies, legal representatives, the police, and other authorities will be used to apportion fault among the respective parties. The issuance of a ticket should not be brought up and used as evidence.
Get Help With Your Chicago Car Accident Case Today
If you’ve recently been in a car accident and the reporting police officer did not issue a citation, it does not mean the other driver is in the clear. Similarly, if you’ve been issued a ticket after an accident, it doesn’t mean you can’t fight to recover the maximum damages possible to cover your losses.
If you’re struggling with medical bills, lost wages from missed work, and pain and suffering, we want to help you fight for the justice you deserve. Call Langdon & Emison at (312) 855-0700 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and we can help you get on the path to recovery as soon as possible.