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PA Car Accident Law - Does A Driver Have To Be Cited In Order To Prove Fault?

After a Pennsylvania car accident in Philadelphia or the suburbs of Philadelphia like Plymouth Meeting, Bensalem, etc., parties involved typically call the police.

The police officer arrives at the scene of the accident and talks to all parties so long as they are able to.  Some injured victims are seriously injured and may be unconscious.  The police officer also talks to witnesses, if any.  The police officer will then make a report based on the investigation and interviews with parties and witnesses.  The police officer may issue a citation or ticket to the driver who caused the accident, such as driving too fast for road conditions, careless driving, etc.

Related - PA Rear-End Car Accidents Caused By A Texting Driver

If an injured car accident victim files a PA car accident lawsuit, does the fact that the at-fault driver was not cited hurt the case? The answer is no.

A traffic citation issued to the at-fault driver is certainly helpful for a victim's civil car accident lawsuit in terms of proving liability.  Consider the following: Driver A is stopped at a red light in Northeast Philadelphia and suddenly rear-ended by another car driven by Driver B.  The police arrives and issues a ticket to Driver B for "Following Too Closely."  Driver B goes to traffic court and pleads guilty to the ticket.

Driver A is seriously injured and files a lawsuit against Driver B.  In this case, the fact that Driver B pled guilty to the ticket establishes his liability.  The only issue left to litigate in the lawsuit is the extent of Driver A's damages and injuries.

What if the police officer did not cite Driver B? Does that mean there is no evidence to prove Driver B's fault? No. 

The police report itself may help establish liability.  Even though Driver B was not cited, the report may describe how the accident happened.  The report may state that Driver B rear-ended Driver A at a red light and caused the accident.  During the lawsuit, the police officer may be called to testify about his observations and what the parties stated.  This can establish liability even though the driver was not cited.  If there are witnesses who can testify as to Driver B's crashing into Driver A from behind, this may also establish fault.  In addition, the injured victim's testimony may also help establish liability.

Thus, a traffic citation issued from the police officer to a driver who caused a car accident in Pennsylvania is not necessary to establish fault or liability in a car accident lawsuit.

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