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Does a Traffic Citation Determine Who’s At Fault?
You may think that when a police officer arrives at the scene of an automobile accident he or she assigns fault by issuing a traffic citation. You would be incorrect. The responding officer does not assign fault, and receiving a traffic citation at the scene of an accident does not make one automatically liable for the accident.
It is true that when insurance companies investigate the accident and assign blame they will consider who got a ticket and for what, but in a court of law a traffic citation is never a per se admission of liability. In fact, the traffic citation is not relevant evidence at trial should your personal injury case go as far as litigation.
According to the Utah Rules of Evidence rule 416, evidence that a person was convicted under a provision of the Utah Code Ann §41-6a (read traffic code) of an infraction or a class C misdemeanor is not admissible to prove that the person acted negligently or otherwise wrongly, or to impeach the person’s testimony on those issues.
In other words, no one can use the fact that you received a traffic citation as evidence that you were acting negligently or wrongly at the time of the accident. The opposing party will have to prove that with witness statements, photographs, and accident reconstruction.
The good news is that a traffic ticket is not sudden death for a personal injury claim. If you have been injured in an accident but received a traffic citation at the scene you may still be able to recover damages if you can show that the other party involved in the accident was at fault. You may talk to an attorney at any time, day or night.
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