Receiving a traffic ticket from your car accident could impact your claim in a negative way. Whether it hurts your chances for full compensation or prevents you from seeking compensation depends on the specific violation, the actions of the other driver involved, and the cause of the crash.
It is important to remember that citations are just one piece of evidence that insurance companies or the court considers to determine fault after a crash. For help filing a claim and addressing allegations that you caused or contributed to the accident, call Cordisco & Saile LLC today at 215-642-2335.
Does a citation clearly demonstrate fault in a crash?
While a citation is never the only evidence necessary to prove fault, there are some circumstance where it is a clear indicator of fault and liability. For example, a driver who runs a red light and strikes another vehicle will likely receive a citation for running the red light. That driver is pretty clearly at fault for the accident – if not for that driver running the red light, the accident would not have happened. This is called negligence per se, meaning that the violation of the law led to the accident and indicates the party’s negligence.
On the other hand, a traffic violation does not automatically indicate you are at fault for a crash. In fact, citations may not indicate that you played any role in causing the crash. This is especially true if you committed a minor violation.
For example, if another driver made an unsafe lane change and side-swiped you, but you were cited for traveling 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, your speeding may not be the primary cause of the accident and you may still be able to file a claim for compensation. It could, however, indicate your comparative negligence.
How does comparative negligence affect compensation?
In our previous example, you received a citation for speeding and the other driver may also receive a citation for making the unsafe lane change. Even if the other driver was the primary contributor to the accident, you may still be partially responsible for your speeding. This is called comparative negligence
Every state sets its own laws about how comparative negligence affects the amount of compensation you are eligible to recover. Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence laws specify that you can only recover damages if you were less than 51 percent at fault for the crash. If you are 51 percent (or more) responsible for an accident, you cannot collect compensation for your injuries through a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit.
But any percentage of fault will proportionally reduce the amount of compensation you can collect. If your comparative negligence for speeding is 10 percent, you can collect 90 percent of the total of your losses under Pennsylvania law.
New Jersey comparative negligence laws also prohibit collecting compensation if you are 51 percent at fault or more, and proportionally reduce compensation by your percentage of fault.
What other types of evidence are necessary to establish fault?
Not every collision results in a citation, and sometimes causation is difficult to determine even when police officers issue citations. When this occurs, other forms of evidence are necessary to prove fault in a crash. Common examples include:
- Eyewitness statements
- Video surveillance from nearby businesses
- Statements from the body shop about damage
- Photographs of the damaged vehicles
- Accident reconstruction
- Other evidence from the scene, such as skid marks
If you were in an accident in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, Cordisco & Saile LLC can help you understand your legal options and what effect – if any – a traffic citation you received could have on your case. Call us today at 215-642-2335 to schedule a free case evaluation.