Accidents happen every day, even if no one has violated the rules of the road. However, if one of the drivers involved in a vehicle crash was issued a ticket at the scene of the accident, you might be wondering if that ticket will automatically make them at fault for what happened.
If you are the driver who has been issued a citation, you’re probably hoping the answer is no. On the other hand, if the other driver got the ticket, you’ll naturally wish that the citation serves as evidence to make them liable for the accident.
The reality of the situation is that a citation can be used as evidence to help establish fault, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.
When Tickets Are Issued at the Scene of an Accident
People violate traffic laws all the time and never get a ticket because they didn’t get caught. When an accident happens and an officer arrives at the scene to take a report, he might issue a citation if he believes that a driver wasn’t complying with the rules of the road.
Depending on the type of citation issued, it can be used as evidence to determine fault.
Any violation of a traffic law can warrant a citation at the scene of an accident, though the following infractions are the most common:
– Not wearing a seatbelt
– Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs
– Illegal turns
– Texting while driving
Which Citations Provide the Strongest Evidence?
The question becomes whether the violation that occurred contributed to or caused the accident. Determining this will depend on the circumstances of the accident, though some violations serve as stronger evidence than others. Further, there typically has to be a plea of guilty by the person who received the ticket for it to be admissible. If that happens, then the ticket could be valuable evidence in your case.
For example, if the other party ran a red light and hit your car as a direct result, the citation will be compelling evidence that can help establish fault.
Similarly, a driver cited for drunk driving might be facing an uphill battle if he’s trying to prove he wasn’t at fault. The insurance companies will look at the other circumstances of the accident to determine how big of a role (if any) the violation played in the crash.
Potentially Strong Evidence
A gray area is speeding. Just because someone was going a few miles over the speed limit doesn’t necessarily prove that they caused the accident. Or does it? Here, the insurance companies will look at a variety of factors, such as:
– How far over the speed limit the driver was going
– Whether the driver was in an area that presented other hazards
– Whether there is any evidence or testimony supporting that high speed caused the accident
Virtually No Evidence
An officer might issue a citation to a driver not wearing a seatbelt. Now the question is whether not wearing a seatbelt caused the accident. Although failure to wear a seatbelt violates a traffic law, it has no bearing on the actual incident. It can, however, influence the extent of injuries. Someone who didn’t wear a seatbelt is likely to sustain more bodily damage than if they had chosen to wear their seatbelt.
Because not wearing a seatbelt won’t be linked to the cause of an accident, this citation will not be admissible to determine fault. However, it can be supporting evidence that the driver acted irresponsibly or had a blatant disregard for safety.
How Insurance Companies Establish Fault
It’s not always clear who was at fault for an accident, even to the parties involved. To establish fault, insurance companies gather all available evidence and then assign a percentage of fault to each party. The evidence an insurance company will evaluate includes:
– Police reports
– Witness statements
– Forensic evidence (skid marks, etc.)
– Damage to the vehicles
– Traffic cameras or other surveillance devices
– Expert testimony
Comparative Negligence Standards
Sometimes fault cannot be attributed 100% to a single party. It’s possible that both parties were at fault. In Oklahoma, there’s a comparative negligence standard that involves assigning a percentage of fault to each party and then reducing the amount of their financial recovery based on how much they are to blame.
For example, if you were in an accident and sustained $100,000 in damages, you might only get $75,000 if you were deemed to be 25% at fault. If you were 50% or more at fault, you would receive nothing in Oklahoma.
As you might have guessed, the percentage of fault is a critical factor in determining how much money you’ll recover in an accident. Your attorney will fight tooth and nail to establish these percentages as much in your favor as possible.
Get Help from an Oklahoma Car Accident Attorney
Whether you received the citation or the other driver was the one who got the ticket, it’s important to make sure that your interests are fairly represented. The other party’s insurance company will use any available evidence to try to assign blame to you. Conversely, they’ll work to minimize any potential responsibility that can be placed on their customer.
Attorney Bryan Garrett is here to help. He has been working with accident victims in Oklahoma for more than 15 years and is prepared to fight for maximum compensation. Contact our team at 405-591-3508 to schedule a free consultation.