At some point in your life, you were probably issued a traffic citation that you felt was unfair. Perhaps there was a situation beyond your control, but you were still blamed for it. This can be particularly frustrating in a car accident. You know that you aren’t at fault, but you still receive a ticket.
When this happens, there can also be concerns about your injuries or property damage. If you need to file a lawsuit to cover your damages, how could this citation affect the outcome? Because of Oklahoma’s comparative negligence laws, traffic citations could be used against you in court.
Most states in the Union use comparative negligence laws to determine fault in a personal injury lawsuit. These laws operate under the philosophy that in an accident, more than one person is usually to blame. Courts will look at the facts of a case and assign a percentage of blame to both the plaintiff and the defendant. Maybe a pedestrian was hit by a speeding car, but that pedestrian was walking at a red, do-not-cross signal. In a situation like that, both parties were not obeying the rules, and they can both be blamed for the resulting injuries.
The percent of blame dictates how much compensation a plaintiff can receive in a lawsuit. For example, if the court rules that the defendant was 60% at fault for an accident, then the plaintiff can receive only 60% of the total compensation.
Some states use a “pure” comparative negligence model in civil suits. Under this system, a plaintiff who is 99% at fault for their injuries can still receive 1% of the total damages. Oklahoma does not use this system. Rather, if a plaintiff is 51% or more at fault for an accident, they cannot receive compensation.
TRAFFIC CITATIONS AND COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE
As a plaintiff, you have a lawyer who is fighting hard to get you the compensation you deserve. The same is true for the defendant. The defense will use whatever they can to defend their clients, no matter how unfair. A traffic citation can be used as evidence against a plaintiff to raise their percent of fault. You and your lawyers need to fight this strategy in advance.
FIGHT THE CITATION
Before heading into a civil suit, fight your citation in court. If you are successful, you can have it thrown out. This will make it far less likely to be used against you in your personal injury case. The defense lawyers may still try to bring it up in court. However, by showing that a prior court found reason to have the citation invalidated, you can argue that it no longer has value as evidence.
ARGUE THE EVIDENCE
Even if the citation remains in place, your lawyers can argue against its validity in your civil trial. Perhaps you were cited for speeding, which makes you appear more at fault in the accident. Your lawyer could question the police’s determination of your speed. Is there a speedometer record? Was the officer simply going by their visual assessment? Whatever the case, any evidence can still be challenged in a courtroom.
If you have a traffic citation against you in an accident, don’t fret. With a skilled lawyer, that citation could become irrelevant. Even if you were breaking traffic laws, it’s possible that the other driver’s behavior is completely to blame. Talk with your attorney and strategize a plan. Good evidence and a good argument can still win the day and help get you the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been cited in an accident, reach out for a free consultation. We have the skill and experience to work around such evidence. Our number is 918-492-7674, and you can contact us online.