Is a Car Accident a Traffic Violation?

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Last modified on September 28, 2023

After suffering injuries in a car accident, many people worry about factors that might affect their ability to file a claim for compensation for their losses. People often wonder whether an accident they have had will lead to a citation for an infringement of traffic laws. They might even worry that a ticket will mean they were at fault for the accident, thus preventing them from recovering compensation.

A car accident is not the same as a traffic violation. Police officers will not automatically issue a ticket just because a collision has occurred. Accidents sometimes happen without anyone having broken the law. In other cases, a person might receive a ticket for a traffic violation even if it has not directly contributed to the accident. As long as another party was primarily responsible for the crash, a traffic ticket will not prevent an injured party from seeking compensation for their losses.

If you were injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, understanding the relationship between traffic violations and accidents may offer you confidence as you move forward with your claim.

When Might an Officer Issue a Ticket after an Accident?

Car accidents are often associated with several types of common traffic violations. Someone might get a ticket in the following circumstances:

  • There was evidence of speeding – The police officer who responded to the accident might give someone a ticket if they determine they were speeding. They may base their decision on eyewitness accounts, tire marks at the accident scene, or the extent of damage the collision caused.
  • Someone was rear-ended – Rear-ending is likely due to someone following a vehicle too closely and/or exceeding the speed limit. Police officers can issue a ticket for following too closely if this has happened.
  • The accident would not have occurred if someone had not broken a traffic law – Some types of crashes can only happen if a driver violates the law. For example, if the accident was a head-on collision on a one-way street, the driver who was going the wrong way violated a traffic law.
  • A driver showed signs of intoxication, or their breathalyzer result is greater than .08 percent – If there are signs that a driver is intoxicated or if they blow over the legal limit at the scene of an accident, they may be arrested and charged with a crime.
  • A driver refused to take a chemical test – The responding police officer will ask an apparently drunk or drugged driver to submit to a chemical test if they have reason to believe that they were intoxicated when the accident happened. If the driver refuses the test, the police officer can issue a ticket and possibly even arrest them for a DUI.

How Do I Avoid a Ticket after an Accident?

Generally, speaking to the police after an accident is a good idea. If you are confident that the other party was at fault for the collision, providing a statement to the responding officer can often help your case.

However, if there is a chance that the accident was your fault, you should limit your conversation with the police. The only information you are legally required to give the police is your:

  • Name
  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance

Otherwise, you have the right to refrain from answering questions or providing a statement. If you decide that you would like to answer more questions at this time, avoid admitting fault. Remember that if there is already sufficient evidence against you, you may receive a ticket without providing a statement.

Can I Fight a Ticket?

You always have the right to fight a ticket in court. Whether or not you should do so will depend on the situation. If you received a ticket for a minor violation that did not contribute to the accident, you could plead guilty and pay the fine without creating any issues for your claim. However, if doing so would amount to an admission that you were primarily at fault for the accident, your claim might suffer. Speak with an experienced car accident attorney who can help you understand the course of action best for you.

Contact an Experienced Charleston Car Accident Attorney

If you received a ticket following a traffic accident, do not assume that you can no longer file a claim. Contact the experienced Charleston personal injury attorneys at Murphy Crantford Meehan immediately. While a ticket might affect your ability to recover compensation, our lawyers will work to determine the most effective path forward for your case. Call us today at (843) 960-3546 or contact us online for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.


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