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Is a Car Accident a Traffic Violation?

Many personal injury cases involve car accidents caused by a traffic violation. If a driver violates the rules of the road and injures you as a direct result, they might be responsible for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. However, while traffic violations often cause car accidents, the accident itself is not a violation. 

When a Car Accident Might Involve a Ticket

Once law enforcement arrives at a crash scene, they’ll use their investigative skills to determine why the accident occurred. They may issue tickets or take other actions if they see that someone committed a traffic violation, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Texting while driving or distracted driving
  • Running a stoplight or stop sign
  • Overtaking improperly or weaving through lanes
  • Failing to follow right-of-way rules
  • Following too closely
  • Failing to signal when turning or changing lanes
  • Driving recklessly (with deliberate disregard for others)
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)


Officers may ask you questions about what happened to draft an accident report and evaluate who might be at fault. If there’s doubt about whether you committed a traffic violation, remember that you do not have to say anything.

How Traffic Violations Impact Fault

is a car accident a traffic violationOfficers will view someone committing a traffic offense as having some degree of fault for the accident. However, just because someone commits a violation doesn’t make them entirely responsible. If the person who injured you broke the law, your lawyer would evaluate whether they’re liable to compensate you according to the “negligence per se” doctrine.

Generally speaking, to prove negligence in a car accident lawsuit, you must show that the other driver violated a duty of care they had to you and thus caused your injuries. When someone commits a traffic offense, the court will already view them as violating their duty of care to other motorists. 

To prove negligence per se in a car accident case, you must show that each of these elements applied to the accident:

  • The defendant committed a traffic violation
  • The law the defendant violated is in place to shield others from harm
  • You are part of the group of people whom the law protects


If you can prove that the violation directly caused your injuries and losses, your odds of being successful in a personal injury case will increase.

What If There Are No Tickets Issued?

Sometimes, a car accident involves traffic violations, but officers do not issue any tickets in the immediate aftermath. They might continue their investigation by examining camera footage and interviewing witnesses, issuing citations through the mail once they have the needed evidence.

Even if the police ultimately do not issue any tickets, there will still be an at-fault driver for the accident who may be liable to compensate you. Your personal injury lawyer will rely on as many forms of evidence as possible to point to the responsible driver’s negligence, including:

  • Witness testimony
  • Expert testimony
  • Photos and footage of the accident
  • Accident reconstruction reports


What If I Received a Ticket?

Even if you received a ticket in the aftermath of the accident, you might still be able to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses. Under South Carolina’s comparative negligence law, you can file a personal injury suit for the accident as long as you were less than 51 percent at fault.

As a judge or jury deliberates, they will assign fault percentages to each party in the case by carefully considering the sum of the evidence, including any tickets. If their verdict favors you, the court must reduce the award you win by the percentage of fault they assigned to you.

When it comes to traffic citations, comparative negligence will usually only matter if both drivers received a ticket. If you were the only driver cited, your odds of success in a personal injury case would decrease.

Your lawyer might advise you to contest the ticket by the appropriate date for your best chances of winning the most compensation. If a traffic court tosses out the ticket, a jury in a personal injury case won’t be able to use it against you.

Consult the Myrtle Beach Car Accident Attorneys of The Yates Firm Today

If you were injured in a car accident that wasn’t all your fault, trust the Myrtle Beach car accident attorneys of The Yates Firm to conduct a thorough investigation and fight for justice. We’re a husband-wife legal team with the experience and resources of a prominent firm, and our focus is on South Carolinians, never insurance companies. If you received a citation from the accident, we might also be able to help you contest it. For a free consultation, contact us at (843) 692-3237 today.

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