While no one wants to imagine this scenario, bear with us for a moment. Picture yourself at the scene of an accident. You’re shaken, scared, and possibly injured – and you have just been issued a ticket by the responding officers. That’s it: it’s all over. You have no legal avenues with which to pursue an injury case, and you’re facing hefty medical and vehicle repair expenses. Don’t get ahead of yourself: that is not always the case. Just because you have been issued a ticket does not mean you have been found liable. Speak to a lawyer to find out what your options are.
In other words, if you received a Florida traffic ticket for an accident, there are a few key legal concepts you need to be aware of. The first – while not a “legal” concept, per se, is this: stay calm. Just because you were issued a ticket does not mean you are out of options or that the accident was necessarily your “fault.” So take a breath, take the ticket, and then contact Clayton Trial Lawyers for guidance. You may still be able to pursue an injury case.
5 Things to Know if You Get a Florida Traffic Ticket for an Accident
1. A traffic ticket does not determine whether or not you are liable for the accident.
Under Florida law, traffic tickets are not admissible as evidence in court, nor are any statements that you make about the accident at that time. (Though we strongly advise you to keep any communications with law enforcement, and others, to a bare minimum. Provide the facts without embellishment, exaggeration, or speculation.)
When an officer issues a ticket, they do so based on their best estimate or “guess” as to what happened given what they observe at the scene. This is not concrete evidence; there may be factors that are not immediately apparent or visible and which will only be uncovered with an accident investigation. In other words: they are reading the scene, making a preliminary judgment call, and issuing a ticket after a car accident. That’s all. It’s not the final word.
2. Juries decide who is at fault.
Absent a video recording of the accident (from multiple angles!), it is difficult to determine fault at the scene. Liability – or the determination of who is legally at fault – is decided by a jury as they examine the facts. And they may well have facts that were not known at the time of the accident but which emerged later. (See related article: Should I Say Sorry After a Car Accident?)
3. Florida uses the legal concept of “comparative negligence.”
In Florida, you may be assigned a portion of the liability for an accident. In other words, you may be partially at fault, but if the other driver is deemed to own a larger percentage of the responsibility for the accident, you may still be able to get compensation. (Be aware that the compensation will be reduced by a percentage equal to your fault.)
4. Your injury case likely will not go to trial.
The vast majority of personal injury cases do not go to trial. It is important that your legal representative still has trial experience so the opposing side knows they are willing and able to take it to the next level, if necessary. Why this matters to you, though, is that your lawyer will be able to negotiate with the other party’s insurance company. Even if you were issued a ticket or have some portion of fault, you can still walk away with a settlement.
5. Speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.
If you received a Florida traffic ticket for an accident and are wondering about your options, contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. They will be able to help guide you through your next steps and give you a realistic sense of whether you are entitled to compensation.
You do not have to deal with an injury case on your own. Call Clayton Trial Lawyers at 833-938-2300 for a consultation. We can help you navigate this complex process, and we will be there every step of the way.