car accident

Being involved in a car accident can be traumatizing enough and some are shocked to receive a traffic ticket by a responding police officer. Gaining an understanding of the reasons that tickets are sometimes issued can bring peace of mind when making the decision to call law enforcement to the scene of an accident.

Why do law enforcement officers write traffic tickets at the scene of a car accident?

To many people, they are already feeling badly enough about their error and will be stuck paying for and dealing with repairing the damage to their vehicle and increased insurance premiums. They are left wondering why law enforcement officers write traffic tickets at the scene of a car accident.

At its core, police officers write tickets at the scene of a car crash because they have seen evidence of a traffic violation (for example, running a red light).

A police officer also knows that the police report and any tickets issued for a motor vehicle accident will have an impact on how much each driver’s insurance company will end up paying out for property damage and personal injuries. Insurance companies request police reports in order to find evidence that their insurance client was not at-fault or was only partially at-fault. If one driver received a traffic ticket and the other did not, that can serve as clear evidence against that driver and creates a clearer outcome. The driver who received the traffic ticket would be more likely to have insurance penalties and the other driver would not. In a sense, the ticket is issued in order to protect the innocent driver from insurance penalties.

Having said that, police officers have discretion as to whether they will issue a traffic ticket or not; traffic tickets may be less commonly dispensed in minor car accidents and more likely in serious ones that involve multiple vehicles. Accidents that involve an impaired driver typically involve an arrest, not a traffic ticket.

Note: Police officers do not write tickets in order to pay for their services at the crash site as police departments receive only a small fraction of the money collected from traffic tickets. Their services are already paid for by tax payers and as a society we wouldn’t want people to avoid calling the police after an accident because of fear of receiving a ticket.

Should I avoid calling the police after a car accident to avoid a traffic ticket?

In most circumstances it is always best to call the police after a car crash. If there is a serious injury or $1000 or more worth damage to one or more vehicles it is necessary and important for the insurance companies to have a police report of the incident.

If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!