Traffic Tickets and Car Accident Cases

Posted By Matthew Clawson || 30-Sep-2014

It is always satisfying to know that the negligent driver who struck, and injured you, got the ticket. On the other hand, when you strongly believe the police should not have given you the ticket in a car accident, don't give up hope of obtaining compensation for your injuries.

Under Colorado law, the police determination of "fault" for a car accident is not conclusive in the claim for auto injuries caused by a negligent driver. This means that, if your injury claim goes to a trial, the jury who decides your claim will never hear who got the ticket from the police. This is a good law, since police officers often will cite a person as being at fault for an accident with minimal or no investigation on the scene.

When an injured party obtains legal representation for the injury claim, the lawyer can quickly hire an accident reconstruction expert to examine all the facts of the accident, as well as examining the crashed cars and the scene, to determine the sequence of conduct that led to the collision. That expert may be able to reach a different conclusion of "fault" for the car accident, depending on what the facts and mathematical formulae show, than the quick assessment of "fault" given on the scene by the investigating police officer.

Of course, this rule of Colorado law also means that, even though the other driver got the ticket in your accident, that driver's insurance company also can disagree with the police officer's assignment of fault. The striking driver's insurance company can contest "liability" of its policyholder for causing the collision and not pay your injury claim. The insurance company also can hire an expert to reconstruct the accident and come to a different conclusion for who was at fault for the collision.

What kinds of collisions cause insurance companies to contest liability? It is hard to determine who caused a collision in an intersection. It is hard to determine whether the car making the left turn had the right of way before it was struck by the oncoming car, or whether the oncoming car was speeding. It may be difficult to determine which car had the green (or red) light in the intersection—or which car ran the stop sign.

If you were injured in a car accident involving one of these complicated cases, it is important to obtain legal representation as soon as possible. The insurance company for the striking driver will quickly hire an expert to visit the scene, examine the crashed cars (including yours) and present an opinion as to who was as fault for your collision. By obtaining an attorney as soon as possible after a collision, your attorney can also hire an expert to conduct the investigation of the collision before all the evidence is removed (or washed away by rain or snow), and interview witnesses before they move away, thereby preserving the evidence for your injury claim—and giving you a fighting chance to respond to the insurance company's denial of your injury claim.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will also be able to explain to you how the law looks at "fault" in determining your damages from a car accident. Colorado law permits your damages to be reduced by the percentage of your fault—up to 50%. (If you are found 50% or more at fault for a collision, you cannot recover for your injuries from the collision.) Experienced car accident attorneys know how to assemble the evidence to prove that the striking driver was 100% at fault for your collision—or to prove that any negligence on your part was minimal and the value of your claim should be only slightly discounted by the insurance company.

Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney at Clawson & Clawson LLP as soon as possible after the accident for a free initial consultation to learn your rights if you were injured in a car accident where fault for the accident is unclear or disputed.

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