Are you the frustrated recipient of an accident ticket in Pennsylvania? Being in an accident can be stressful and scary and those feelings can be compounded when the police show up and hand you a ticket. In this article we’ll look at what it means, what you should do, and how the legal team at GSAS can help when you are ticketed for an accident.
The Scene of the Accident
If you have been involved in an accident you will want to notify the police. This can be an important step to take to protect yourself. Even if the accident is minor, some injuries or damages may take time to be discovered. Having a police report can help document the accident should you ever need to seek compensation.
A police report can also be helpful if the other parties in the accident are not insured. The downside is that when the police arrive on the scene there is the possibility that you will be ticketed for an accident. Getting this piece of paper does not automatically place you at fault for the accident.
What is Being “At Fault?”
If you are found to be at fault in a motor vehicle accident, it means that you may be financially responsible for any repairs and damages. In Pennsylvania multiple people can be found to be at fault for the same incident. This decision is typically made by an insurance adjuster or in court.
If you are at fault there are a number of consequences you may face. Your insurance company will make payments for damages but this will cause your insurance rates to rise. You may also have to pay legal penalties.
What to do With an Accident Citation
If you are cited for an accident you have two actions you can take:
- Accept the citation
- Challenge the citation in court
Accepting the citation means consenting to all of the legal penalties and financial responsibilities that “come” with the citation. If you choose to challenge, or contest, the accident citation you are hoping to:
- Show that it was issued in error
- Show that the members in the other vehicles had complete, or partial, responsibility for the accident
There is generally information on the back of the citation detailing the steps you need to take to contest it. Because of the legal complexities that can arise in these situations, it is in your best interest to contact a legal professional to help you with this process.
Why Contest an Accident Ticket
Being blamed for an accident and receiving a ticket can have a long term effect on your finances and your ability to drive. That’s because you could see your insurance premiums rise and face legal fines. You could also receive points on your driver’s license.
In Pennsylvania when you are guilty of certain driving violations, points may be added onto your driver’s license. Different violations have different point values. For example, leaving the scene of an accident where there is property damage can add 4 points to your license.
After you have a certain number of points, your license can be suspended. Working with a legal professional to evaluate your situation can help you decide whether a legal challenge can help you avoid penalties like these.
Citations, Tickets and Police Reports
At the simplest level a ticket is a record of the accident. (Law enforcement officials, and the courts, refer to tickets as citations.) Another record of the accident will be a police report. These reports will contain all of the relevant information regarding the accident which could include:
- Names of the drivers
- Year, make and model of the vehicles involved
- A diagram of the accident scene
- Roadway conditions
- Witness statements
- Other, related information
The Police Report
Following an accident, a police report will be completed and filed. This report may be used by a number of different people:
- An insurance adjuster may use the report to help make a determination as to who was at fault and what the insurance company will pay.
- Other people involved in the accident may use the report when deciding whether to pursue a lawsuit to seek any civil penalties.
- A court may choose to allow it in a civil case.
As an important record of the traffic accident a police report should be direct, clear, and unbiased. It should also be error free.
What if there are Police Report Errors
If you discover an error in the police report, you can ask for it to be amended. This could involve the officer updating the actual report to correct it or offering an addendum. This will not happen just because you ask though. To prove there was an error you will need to provide definitive evidence which could include:
- Photos taken at the time of the accident
- Witness statements
- Security footage from businesses and/or homes near the site of the accident
- Diagnostic detail from any engine-mounted or mobile insurance-based “Safe Driver” program
Law enforcement is not required to update their report. But the information and photos you’ve collected that show an error in the report can be used by your legal team when they are contesting why you were blamed for an accident.
Help is Here When You Are Cited for an Accident
Accidents are stressful but you don’t have to manage them alone. If you were ticketed for an accident in Pennsylvania, the experienced legal team at Spivak & Sakellariou are here for you. Our lawyers can help you navigate accident insurance claims or litigation that might come from receiving an accident ticket.