Is Liability for a Car Accident Automatic When the Other Driver Commits a Traffic Violation?


October 07, 2013

Our Atlanta auto accident lawyers (serving the entire state of Georgia) at Montlick and Associates often receive calls from those who have been involved in a collision and express confidence that the other driver was at-fault.  This confidence is frequently rooted in the fact that a law enforcement officer issued a ticket to the other driver.  Although a traffic violation often provides a legitimate grounds for imposing liability, the mere fact that a driver has been cited for a moving violation does not automatically mean that the ticketed motorist will bear all or even part of the fault for injuries suffered in a car accident.  We have provided an overview of a few scenarios to illustrate the impact the violation of a traffic law may have on the issue of liability.

Clear Traffic Violation but No Factor in Collision: Sometimes the validity of a traffic citation and the underlying violation is fairly clear, such as when a driver exceeds the speed limit.  However, the fact that a driver was speeding when an accident occurred does not necessarily mean that a motorist’s speed caused the collision.  Generally, speeding will contribute to a collision because it increases reaction time and reduces the driver’s control over the vehicle, but there are situations where the excess speed of a driver may not be the cause of the collision or only one contributing cause.  The key point is that even if there is no dispute that a driver was speeding, the plaintiff must still establish that the speeding violation was a factor in causing the crash or exacerbating the victim’s injuries.

Traffic Violation Unclear: There are situations where it may be alleged that a driver committed a moving violation but was not issued a ticket by the police officer.  Even if the officer does give the other driver a citation, there are situations where the officer’s evaluation of fault or decision to issue the ticket is mistaken.  The attorneys for the insurance company may dispute the accuracy of the police report or aggressively cross-examine witnesses to establish that the defendant did not commit the moving violation.  In this situation, an experienced Georgia auto accident attorney will need to present evidence that may include officer testimony to substantiate that the defendant violated a traffic safety law that caused the crash.

Multiple Traffic Violations: There are many car accidents when both parties are issued tickets for violating a traffic safety law.  A driver might run a red light and T-bone another vehicle in an intersection.  While the driver that runs the red light typically will be liable in this situation, the plaintiff’s high rate of speed might increase the severity of the injuries suffered in the collision.  In this situation, fault will be apportioned between both parties under the legal theory of comparative negligence.  The percentage of fault assigned to the speeding injury victim may result in a reduction in recovery in proportion to the amount of fault assigned to the plaintiff.  If the plaintiff is determined to be fifty percent or more at-fault, this will bar recovery.

The fundamental takeaway from this discussion is that recovery in a personal injury case where the other driver commits a traffic violation is not automatic.  Our experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys understand the relevance of a traffic violation based on the specific circumstances of a car accident claim so we can explain the impact of the traffic violation.  If you are injured in a car accident where a traffic citation is issued, our Georgia motor vehicle collision lawyers at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.  No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.