Virginia Personal Injury and Accident Law

You have been injured in an accident while the other driver seemingly walks away with a traffic ticket, perhaps for speeding or running a red light.  You pause and wonder about the fairness of this situation.  Although the other driver may be tempted to avoid the hassle of court and instead opt to prepay the associated fine, the law may be on your side. 

A Virginia statute provides that when an accused pays a ticket without executing a written waiver, the tender of payment operates as a waiver of a court hearing and constitutes the entry of a guilty plea.  See Virginia Code Ann. § 19.2-254.1.  In short, a prepaid ticket operates as a guilty plea. Another Virginia statue provides that a guilty plea or plea of no contest (“nolo contendere”) is admissible in a civil action arising out of the same occurrence. See Virginia Code Ann. § 8.01-418.  Therefore, a plaintiff can use the prepayment of a ticket as an admission of guilt in a personal injury civil case.  You have been injured in an accident while the other driver seemingly walks away with a traffic ticket, perhaps for speeding or running a red light.  You pause and wonder about the fairness of this situation.  Although the other driver may be tempted to avoid the hassle of court and instead opt to prepay the associated fine, the law may be on your side.  A Virginia statute provides that when an accused pays a ticket without executing a written waiver, the tender of payment operates as a waiver of a court hearing and constitutes the entry of a guilty plea.  See Virginia Code Ann. § 19.2-254.1.  In short, a prepaid ticket operates as a guilty plea. Another Virginia statue provides that a guilty plea or plea of no contest (“nolo contendere”) is admissible in a civil action arising out of the same occurrence. See Virginia Code Ann. § 8.01-418.  Therefore, a plaintiff can use the prepayment of a ticket as an admission of guilt in a personal injury civil case.

Often, the defendant driver is unaware of these implications and is primarily concerned about resolving the ticket quickly.  However, a civil suit may arise long after that ticket is paid. Even when the ticket is not prepaid, a seasoned attorney should contact the local Commonwealth’s Attorney to assist the prosecution and explain the impending civil suit and the implications of a guilty plea.  Often, the defendant driver is unaware of these implications and is primarily concerned about resolving the ticket quickly.  However, a civil suit may arise long after that ticket is paid. Even when the ticket is not prepaid, a seasoned attorney should contact the local Commonwealth’s Attorney to assist the prosecution and explain the impending civil suit and the implications of a guilty plea.

Certain charges are criminal in nature, like a DUI or hit and run, and cannot be prepaid.  In these cases, like others, the Commonwealth’s Attorney will want to know the details of the accident and whether there are any unpaid medical bills or property damage expenses in the hopes of garnering restitution.  The Commonwealth’s Attorney will want to help you, the victim, and solicit a guilty plea, as it will be an added benefit to you and your personal injury case.Certain charges are criminal in nature, like a DUI or hit and run, and cannot be prepaid.  In these cases, like others, the Commonwealth’s Attorney will want to know the details of the accident and whether there are any unpaid medical bills or property damage expenses in the hopes of garnering restitution.  The Commonwealth’s Attorney will want to help you, the victim, and solicit a guilty plea, as it will be an added benefit to you and your personal injury case.

If your personal injury case proceeds to trial, the defendant driver will be given an opportunity to explain to the jury the reasons for pleading guilty, such as the burden of traveling to a remote jurisdiction.  However, the fact of the plea may be too much for the minds of the jurors to overcome and they may place fault on the defendant.  While the plea in a criminal case is not dispositive of the personal injury case, it is a heavy hammer for any personal injury attorney to swing.If your personal injury case proceeds to trial, the defendant driver will be given an opportunity to explain to the jury the reasons for pleading guilty, such as the burden of traveling to a remote jurisdiction.  However, the fact of the plea may be too much for the minds of the jurors to overcome and they may place fault on the defendant.  While the plea in a criminal case is not dispositive of the personal injury case, it is a heavy hammer for any personal injury attorney to swing.

PLDR Law Amy Kawalski 1 PLDR Law Chad Mooney 1

 

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