In The News

If No Ticket Was Issued, Does this Mean the other Driver Was Not Negligent?

If you’ve been injured in a car, truck, or other vehicle accident, you may be curious whether the driver who caused the accident received a ticket and how this could affect your case.

Negligence is Not the Same as a Traffic Violation

In a civil case for damages resulting from a vehicle crash, as a basis for seeking compensation, the person injured ordinarily will claim that the other driver was negligent. Negligence is a legal theory that means one person owed a duty to another, the person breached their duty, and foreseeable damages or injuries resulted.  For instance, when driving, we all have a legal duty to drive in a safe manner. If we engage in an unsafe practice (such as running a red light), we normally will be liable if damages or injuries result from our negligence.

Traffic violations involve a violation of criminal or traffic statutes.  If the police investigating an accident believe that a driver violated a traffic regulation, the investigating officer may issue a ticket, or may even arrest the driver for violation of a criminal statute (in a DUI accident, for example).

Tickets are not issued in every accident. Sometimes, it may be unclear which vehicle was at fault in causing the accident.  Sometimes, the driver who was the victim may receive a ticket if the police did not get the facts correctly.   Receiving a ticket does not affect the ability of a person to sue the person or people believed to be at fault.

If the Other Driver Received a Ticket

If the other driver received a ticket for committing a traffic infraction, this can be very helpful in dealing with that driver’s insurance company and help to resolve the claim without having to file a law suit. However, once suit is filed, the citation is not considered admissible evidence. The investigating officer can testify on his observations and factual investigation, but may not testify who was issued a citation or why.

In a car or truck accident injury case, it’s not the ticket itself that makes good evidence, it is the basis upon which the ticket was given that makes good evidence.  Typically, the police will investigate the accident soon after arriving on the scene, and will make diagrams, take pictures, record various measurements, and interview witnesses.  This evidence collected by the police may be very valuable in proving that the other driver was negligent.

If the Other Driver Did Not Receive a Ticket

If the other driver received no ticket, this in no way means the other driver was not negligent. It may mean the police concluded there was not sufficient evidence to show the other driver was violating the law.

It is important to realize that the job of the police is to determine whether any statutes were violated; it is not their role to investigate to assist an injured person in a civil lawsuit to prove negligence. Proving negligence is our job – it’s what we do to seek full and fair compensation for our clients.