Today, I want to answer a question that comes up all the time: “should I go to traffic court?” This question comes up in the context of the following: you’re in a car crash and the other person gets a ticket for causing the crash and now you’ve got a date to go to traffic court.
The short answer is yes, you should. But, it might be a waste of time.
Let me explain.
When you go to traffic court, they’re going to call the defendant’s name, the defendant being the person that got the citation and the person that caused the crash. That person is going to do one of two things: they’re going to either plead “guilty” or they’re going to plead “not guilty.” If they plead guilty, that’s a huge win for you. The reason being is that’s the only thing that’s admissible in a case like this. In a traffic court case, what happens in traffic court never affects what happens in your civil case unless the defendant pleads guilty.
So, what happens if they plead not guilty and then there’s a trial and you have to testify in the trial? All the evidence is heard in a traffic court case and say the judge finds the person guilty. You’re thinking “this is going to be good, the judge found the person guilty.” In reality, it might be good in the sense of the person receiving a fine or some other punishment for causing the collision in the criminal context; but in the civil context, it has no relevance whatsoever. The only thing that affects your civil case is if the defendant pleads guilty and admits it’s their fault. Even if there’s a trial and the defendant is found guilty, that does not spill over into your civil case.
I hope this answers your question. The next time you have a date with traffic court – and if you have any additional questions – let me know and I’ll give you the advice that you’re looking for.