Road Law
Tackling tickets

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

We get a lot of calls from drivers after they’ve had a wreck and were issued a traffic ticket. Most of these collisions involve only minor property damage to the caller’s truck, alleged damage to the other driver’s vehicle, or damage to state/municipal property.

When you have an accident, there are a lot of issues you have to consider. You certainly don’t want to simply pay a ticket you received after your accident. The following questions and answers are from drivers just like you.

Q. I’m a driver and was stopped in Knoxville, Tenn., where the officer told me that I hit another car. I told the officer that I didn’t hit anything, but he still gave me a ticket for “leaving the scene.” There’s no damage to my truck and nobody was hurt in the accident. Should I just pay my ticket?

A. No! You should not simply pay your “leaving the scene” ticket. Simply paying any ticket is a “voluntary admission of guilt” on your part, and you certainly don’t want to admit your guilt and be convicted of this particular ticket. If you’re convicted of “leaving the scene,” your CDL will automatically be disqualified for one year. You need to plead “not guilty” and have your matter set for trial.

Q. I’m a driver, and my wife was recently in an auto accident. My wife told the officer at the scene she wasn’t injured, but after about a week she started having problems with her neck and back. Is it too late for her to change her “no injury” statement on the accident report?

A. No. Your wife doesn’t have to change any information on the original accident report, but she should see her doctor immediately. Not having any symptoms of an injury right after an accident is very common, and it may take days or even weeks for personal injury symptoms to arise.

Legally, in most cases, your wife has up to two years to claim any injuries from her accident case. Of course, she shouldn’t wait that long to report any possible injuries to her doctor or the other party’s insurance provider.

Q. I was in a wreck, and my truck was totaled. I wasn’t issued a ticket, but the other driver was. After the wreck, the other driver gave me the insurance information. I made a damage claim with the insurance company, but no one called me.

When I opened my mail today, I found a check from the insurance company but the amount is a lot less than my truck is worth. Also, I’m having problems with my left hip and back, and that’s the same side where my truck was damaged. Should I go ahead and cash the insurance check?

A. No. You should not cash or deposit your insurance check until you’re totally satisfied with the amount of property damages to your truck and with all medical expenses you incurred/will incur in the future resulting from your accident. Cashing or depositing this initial insurance check may be considered your agreement to settle all claims, both property damages and personal injury, resulting from your accident. Seeking legal advice/representation is advisable at this point. LL


Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; call 405-242-2030, fax 888-588-8983, or email roadlaw@att.net.

This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone's legal situation is different. Consult with an attorney for specific advice on your situation.