What to do when you receive a car accident citation

There are approximately 6 million car accidents every year. But when most people think about getting into an accident, they often don't imagine being at fault.

If you're the one responsible for a collision, there's a good chance you'll get a car accident citation when the police arrive. The next steps can be intimidating for those who have never been in this situation before.

Not sure where to start? Don't worry, we have it all for you.

Let's take a look at everything you need to know about.

Reasons to get a quote

There are a handful of factors that can cause a law enforcement officer to issue you a citation, and not all of them involve hitting another vehicle with your own.

  • Speeding at the time of the accident
  • Red light violations
  • Right of way violations

There are other violations that can result in a citation, but these are some of the most common ones.

So, I got a quote … what happens now?

An officer will issue a traffic citation to a driver if there is enough evidence (either physical or eyewitness) to prove one party was directly responsible for the incident.

If you receive a citation, it is considered a criminal offense (even if your actions were unintentional). Incidents involving negligence behind the wheel, such as texting and driving, are still felonies.

As a result, you need to consider a handful of scenarios.

Make an insurance claim

Since receiving a ticket after an accident proves you were at fault, you can't file an insurance claim to cover the damage to your vehicle while also accusing the other driver of responsibility.

Similarly, if you file a personal injury lawsuit against the other party, you don't have much chance of success. In some cases, this may not be a big deal. This is especially true if there is insignificant damage to the people and vehicles involved.

However, in other cases, your citation could prove to be a significant obstacle between you and compensation.

You will need to appear in court

As mentioned earlier, it is a criminal offense if you receive a traffic citation as a result of an accident. So you will need to go to court.

While it is not impossible for the officer who ticketed you to fail to appear in court (resulting in a dismissal), you cannot assume that things will go your way.

You need to take an appearance in traffic court as seriously as you would a regular court case. Part of this preparation involves contacting a reputable traffic attorney to defend you in the courtroom.

You can contest the ticket

While the goal of a law enforcement officer is to punish those who break the law, it is impossible to perform that duty flawlessly. However, if you feel that the officer's ruling does not reflect what happened, you have the option to contest the ticket while you are in court.

If you choose to go this route, it is important to understand that it will essentially be your version of the story versus the officer's iteration of events.

Police officers always have an advantage in court over ordinary citizens, so you need to prepare properly. This means that you will need:

  • Compile any pictures of the accident scene that you have
  • Gather eyewitness accounts made by people at the scene of the accident who may have seen what happened
  • Surveillance footage from companies that may have recorded the incident

Simply put, the more evidence you have to support your claim, the better your chances of things going in your favor.

Contesting a ticket is especially important if you were injured in the accident and need to file an insurance claim for your medical bills.

What to do when both drivers are cited

In rare cases, an officer will decide that both parties are responsible for the collision. For example, a driver who is speeding may collide with another while making an illegal turn.

What this doesn't mean, however, is that both drivers are equally responsible for the accident.

In the above scenario, it is likely that slightly exceeding the speed limit is less dangerous than an illegal U-turn across three lanes of traffic.

Since your citation will affect your chances of a lawsuit or insurance claim, proving that you were not the more liable party should be a top priority.

However, this situation is particularly murky and often requires the assistance of a traffic attorney to help you come out ahead.

What to look for in an attorney

Before you hire an attorney, there are a few factors to consider.

Your attorney should be someone you are comfortable communicating with. Accessibility is also an attribute to consider, as you may have a hard time giving your attorney information about your case if you can't easily reach them.

Your attorney should also have a track record of success in the courtroom. Looking at their previous cases can save you a lot of time when trying to make your decision.

Dealing with a car accident quote can seem difficult

With the above information on dealing with a car accident in mind, you'll be well on your way to taking care of it as soon as possible.

Want to learn more about traffic tickets? This page contains a lot of useful information.