If you’ve been in a car accident, you might be anxious about receiving a ticket. While the decision to write one or not largely rests with the police officers at the scene, tickets can indicate fault in a crash, impacting your ability to file a compensation claim for your injuries.
However, not every accident results in a ticket, and a ticket isn’t the sole indicator of liability or fault in an accident. Understanding how tickets can be used as evidence in insurance claims can help you and your Florida car accident lawyer minimize your liability and obtain compensation for your injuries.
When Do Police Officers Write a Ticket After a Crash?
The decision to issue a ticket after a car crash depends on several factors. Police officers use their discretion to determine if a ticket is warranted based on the evidence, witness statements, and the state’s traffic laws. Some situations in which an officer may issue a ticket include:
- Severity of the accident: Officers may not issue a ticket for minor fender-benders with no injuries and minimal damage. However, in more serious accidents resulting in injuries or property damage, they are more likely to intervene and take action.
- Traffic violations: If one or more drivers involved in the accident violated traffic laws, such as running a red light, speeding, or failing to yield, the officer may issue a ticket to the offending party. This can also include tickets for texting while driving or using a handheld device in a school zone.
- Risky or aggressive driving: Behaviors like aggressive driving, road rage, or driving under the influence often lead to accidents. In these cases, officers may issue tickets for reckless driving or DUI.
- Failure to maintain control: If a driver’s inability to control their vehicle leads to a crash, the officer may issue a ticket for careless or reckless driving. This can be due to actions like speeding in poor road conditions, overcorrecting or swerving in a way that causes harm to another, or driving distractedly.
However, not every accident results in a ticket. Officers may choose not to issue tickets when the circumstances are unclear, or the evidence doesn’t support a violation. If injuries are severe, the focus may shift toward providing medical assistance rather than immediately issuing tickets.
Should You Always Call the Police After a Collision in Florida?
Section 316.065 of the Florida Statutes mandates contacting local law enforcement immediately if the accident results in death, injury, or property damage exceeding $500. It is best to assume than any crash that causes visible damage to a vehicle caused more than $500 of damage, and that police need to be called.
Even if the accident does not meet the statutory criteria for mandatory reporting, it is still advisable to call the police to the scene. Having an officer document the incident can be vital in establishing liability and protecting your rights, especially when injuries or disputes arise later.
Here are some scenarios when you should call the police:
- Injuries: If anyone involved in the accident, including passengers, sustains injuries that require treatment, not matter how minor, call the police.
- Disputed liability: If there is a dispute regarding who is at fault, calling the police ensures an impartial report of the accident, which can be vital in establishing fault. Based on observations, police may issue a ticket indicating liability for insurance claims or legal actions.
- Hit-and-run: If the other party flees the scene without exchanging information, call the police to report a hit-and-run.
- Uncooperative parties: If the other driver refuses to provide insurance information or cooperate, involving the police can help resolve the situation.
The Importance of Tickets as Evidence in an Insurance Claim
Tickets issued at accident scenes can help insurance adjusters and attorneys determine liability. Because police issue them, they can serve as an impartial record of a perceived traffic violation, indicating the party may be at fault. Tickets can show the following during the insurance claims process:
- Demonstration of liability: Tickets can show explicit liability. For instance, if a driver is ticketed for running a red light and subsequently colliding with another vehicle, that ticket is a direct indicator of fault. It suggests the accident might not have occurred had the driver obeyed the traffic signal.
- Validation of eyewitness accounts: Tickets can back up witness testimony for a claim. For example, a witness claims they saw a car swerving just before an accident. If the driver of that car receives a ticket for erratic driving or being under the influence, it reinforces the witness’s statement.
- Timeline establishment: The time indicated on the ticket can clarify when the incident occurred. This can be particularly useful when determining the sequence of events in multi-vehicle pileups.
- Detailing specific violations: A ticket can highlight the exact nature of the violation, such as speeding at 20 mph over the limit. This detail can show the severity of the negligence and its role in causing the accident.
- Supporting photographic and video evidence: Tickets can support or clarify other evidence, such as photos or videos. For instance, if a traffic camera captures a driver running a stop sign, and that driver is ticketed for the same violation, the ticket and video together present a case of fault.
- Impact on settlement negotiations: The gravity of the violation can influence the claim’s outcome. For example, a ticket for distracted driving due to texting might lead to a higher settlement amount for the injured party because of the blatant disregard for safety.
While citations provide an initial perspective from law enforcement on the incident, they aren’t always definitive. A ticket may not capture the full scope of the accident or might even be contested by the cited driver.
How an Attorney Can Minimize Liability for Crash Victims
In 2023, Florida instated a modified comparative negligence system for determining fault. Under the new law, you can only recover damages if you are 50% or less at fault for the accident. You are not entitled to compensation if you are over 50% at fault.
For injured drivers, obtaining a fair settlement requires the help of an experienced attorney who can help determine fault based on all evidence. Our lawyers at Aigen Injury Law can help you minimize your liability if you receive a ticket in order to maximize your compensation.
- Thorough examination: Our attorneys can conduct in-depth investigations, collecting evidence that supports your claim. This includes gathering witness statements, analyzing traffic camera footage, and consulting accident reconstruction experts.
- Expert testimony: We can bring in expert witnesses who provide professional opinions on accident causation and fault allocation, countering opposing claims effectively.
- Skillful negotiation: Our attorneys can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, ensuring a fair settlement, even if you share partial responsibility. We can present a compelling case to refute your ticket and show that the other driver was at fault.
- Legal expertise: With our experience in navigating Florida’s modified comparative negligence system, our attorneys can create legal strategies to lower your liability so that it does not exceed the 50% fault threshold. This can help you secure compensation for your injuries and losses.
Secure Your Rights After a Car Accident in Florida
Tickets issued after an accident can serve as valuable evidence in insurance claims, but they are not infallible. If you find yourself in a situation where a ticket may not accurately reflect the circumstances of your accident, it is crucial to consult with skilled legal representation.
At Aigen Injury Law, our experienced Florida car accident lawyers are ready to help you navigate the complexities of the state’s traffic laws, gather evidence, and minimize liability to secure the compensation you deserve.
Protect your rights and seek the compensation you are entitled to. Contact Aigen Injury Law for a free consultation, and let us advocate for you.