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♦ Legal Myth Busters: Myth #2 – Traffic Tickets and Personal Injury

♦ Legal Myth Busters: Myth #2 – Traffic Tickets and Personal Injury

The Traffic Ticket Given to the Other Driver and the Police Officer’s Opinion of Who Caused the Accident Are Admissible As Evidence If My Personal Injury Case Goes To Trial Clients are always surprised and frustrated to learn that the jury is not allowed to hear that the other driver was issued a traffic ticket—often for following too close or inattentive driving in a rear-end collision, or for disregarding a traffic signal in an intersection collision.  Almost always, such evidence will be excluded by the judge at a jury trial. There are two main reasons why this is the case.  First, most drivers just pay the ticket rather than contest it, and there is a state statute that expressly allows them to enter a “no contest” plea without the traffic conviction being used against them to prove fault in a later civil action. Second, as to the opinions of the investigating police officer contained within the accident report, unless the officer happened to actually be an eyewitness to the crash, his or her opinions are viewed by the court as based only on after-the-fact hearsay provided by the involved drivers or any eyewitnesses to the accident. The judge excludes the officer’s conclusion based on hearsay, because of a belief that the jury should be allowed to draw its own conclusions about fault after hearing all of the testimony from those that actually observed the events leading up to the collision.  The court does not want the jury’s role as the finder of fact and determination of the credibility of witnesses to be unduly influenced by conclusions drawn by the...