If the person I hit broke traffic laws and I rear end them, am I at fault?

by Mason
(Reno, Nevada)

While driving down a road where there is a left center turn lane, a large vehicle towing an even larger trailer turned right (without an indicator) in an attempt to turn into a local business. This maneuver broke numerous traffic laws (turning right in a center left turn lane, failing to signal, as well as turning right from a lane other than the extreme right hand lane).

I was not able to stop in time and ended up swerving into the center lane, hitting his trailer, and then being thrown into oncoming traffic where I was then hit by a semi truck traveling the other direction.

The police then proceeded to write me a citation for "careless driving" and said that I was at fault for this accident.

My question is, if a vehicle breaks traffic laws and because of their actions I rear end them, is it my fault? Do they bear ANY liability? Is there anything I can do in this situation? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "If the person I hit broke traffic laws and I rear end them, am I at fault?":

Mason (Reno, Nevada):

The citation you received can be found under Nevada Traffic Code Section 484B.650

Under the facts you present, it is difficult to know why the police issued the citation to you. Instead of Careless Driving, the police might have issued a ticket for following too closely, but chose not to.

You have every right to plead "not guilty" to the citation and request a trial. Before trial, access the crash report at the Nevada DOT website. There you can request a copy of the accident report completed by the investigating police officer.

The report should be detailed, including a diagram of the position of the vehicles before the crash, witness information, weather conditions, and more.

Of course, if you can prove the other vehicle was in violation of the traffic code you may have a good chance of prevailing in trial. Remember, the issuance of a traffic citation to you is not conclusive proof of guilt. The traffic citation is merely a piece of circumstantial evidence the prosecutor relies on in the presentation of the case in trial. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Once you have the crash report, see if there were any witnesses listed. If so, you have every right to contact them to see if they gave statements to the police, and if so what, they said. If you find witnesses who are willing to testify on your behalf in trial, your case at trial will become much stronger.

If the witnesses are not willing to testify in your behalf you should not subpoena them. If you do, they may be unhappy, and as a result, their testimony may adversely affect your case.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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