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Negligence and the Significance of Traffic Tickets

The collision between a semi-tractor trailer carrying Busch Beer and a Frito-Lay truck in Melbourne, Florida made news this week. WKMG reports that the Frito-Lay truck was pulled over onto the shoulder for an unknown reason when the beer truck swerved to the right and collided with it. The beer truck driver was ticketed with failing to maintain a single lane.

It may seem like an open and shut case as to who was at fault since the beer truck driver was ticketed, but that is not necessarily the case. Just because a driver was ticketed does not necessarily mean that a court would find them responsible and they could not recover damages. The discussion that follows does not necessarily pertain to the above situation, but examines generally the significance of traffic tickets in some injury cases.

Negligence

Lawsuits filed after an accident involve claims that one party was negligent. “Negligence” is a legal term that requires four elements to be proven: duty, breach, causation and damages.  For example, in a case similar to the one above, the plaintiff would have to prove that the driver had a duty to drive reasonably and safely (duty), but breached this duty by driving unsafely and swerving into lanes (breach).  If the negligent act resulted in injury to persons or property, then causation and damages are established.

Lawsuits often hinge on whether the driver did actually breach the duty of care that is expected of them. In other words, did the allegedly negligent driver behave as a reasonable person would in the situation, or did they act in a way that was less prudent?

 The Effect of a Traffic Ticket

Under Florida law, traffic crash reports prepared by an investigating law enforcement officer are not admissible in a lawsuit brought by the injured individual against the negligent driver.  In addition, the testimony of an officer even suggesting that a driver has been charged with a civil traffic citation in connection with and accident constitutes prejudicial error and would be grounds for a mistrial.  Just because a driver received a traffic ticket, does not mean that he or she is automatically found to be negligent or at fault for the accident.

 Contact a Clearwater Attorney

After an accident there are a lot of laws and regulations that come into play to find out who is at fault and it is important to talk to a skilled attorney as soon as possible. Experienced Clearwater attorneys Roman & Roman P.A. can help advise you on your legal rights and recovery.

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