Sometimes an officer gives you a citation for a collision when it is clearly not your fault. Here are some tips to ensure that a citation does not torpedo your claim—as you cannot recover if a jury decides the wreck was your fault.
Speaking With Other People At The Scene
If the collision wasn’t your fault, then don’t say it was. This seems obvious but we all have a tendency to try and resolve conflicts without thinking about the results. Do not accept responsibility for a wreck if it wasn’t your fault. Also, do not apologize for the wreck if it wasn’t your fault. Sometimes another party will decide that an apology means you’re at fault. Don’t do it.
Speaking With The Officer
When talking with the investigating officer, explain what happened calmly and simply. Don’t argue or yell. Just tell him or her what happened. If the officer still decides to cite you, just take the citation and we will work with you on it after the fact. Nothing good comes from fighting with the officer at the scene.
Dealing With The Ticket
If you’re not at fault for the wreck, do not pay the fine! Do not mail in a check or pay online. Doing this means you are admitting the collision was your fault. Such an admission can be devastating to your case and prevent you from obtaining a fair recovery from the insurance company.
Going To Court
Instead of paying the ticket online, you need to go to court or have an attorney go to court for you on the citation. We all lead very busy lives and don’t want to go to the hassle of doing this but sometimes it’s necessary. By going to court and making it clear that you intend to fight, you give yourself or your attorney the opportunity to speak with the prosecuting attorney, the police officer, any witnesses, and make sure you don’t accidentally do something that can be used against you later.
Pleading The Ticket Out
Don’t think you have to go all the way through trial on your citation! Sometimes the prosecutor will drop the citation once he or she knows all the facts, sometimes the officer won’t show up, and sometimes the judge will dismiss it. If you have to dispose of the citation without going through a trial, you can still plead “no contest” (nolo contendere) to the citation to be done with it. With this plea, you still have to pay a fine but you are not admitting you did anything that caused or contributed to the collision.