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Why do I have to go to court after an accident that wasn't my fault?

Chicago, IL |

I was in a t-bone accident. The other driver got a ticket for failing to yield while turning left. I just received a notice requesting that I appear in court (or the case will be dismissed). Why do I need to go to court? Is the other driver fighting the ticket? What can they possibly get out of fighting the ticket? They definitely failed to yield while turning left.

*appear in court as a witness

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

I can tell you exactly why, both from my experience as a lawyer and from personal experience.

You are summoned as a witness. If you don't testify, how can the prosecutor prove the case against the other driver? That's why you are necessary.

As far as WHY the other driver would fight the ticket, well, there may be several reasons.

First, a plea of guilty can be used as an admission of negligence in any civil case so, if you had been injured, a plea of guilty by the other driver would more or less give you a slam dunk on liability in any lawsuit for your injuries. It would also be used by your two insurance companies to determine who was at fault. A guilty plea means the at fault driver is going to be determined to be 100% at fault, rather than ascribing some blame upon you.

Second, tickets and the pleas to them can impact insurance premiums. Simply, the other driver doesn't want his/her premiums to go up, so you have to show up to force him or her to plead guilty (or go to trial and lose).

If you were hurt, get checked out by a doctor and contact a personal injury lawyer and discuss with that lawyer how to handle the ticket.

If you were not hurt, then you should appear in court, advise the prosecutor you are there, and wait to see whether you are needed to testify.

I was involved in an incident similar to yours, and I also had to show up in traffic court as a witness. My appearance "forced" a plea of guilty.

I hope this helps.

Stephen L. Hoffman
Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC
Chicago, IL

This answer posted on Avvo is for informational and educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship created or formed and you should not rely on this as legal advice. The suggestion is made that if you wish to protect your rights, you consult with an attorney immediately.


You need to go to court because you are what is called the Complaining Witness. Because the police officer was not there and did not see the accident, he cannot testify to what the defendant has done or failed to do. You will need to be present in order to prove the State's case against the driver. Without you, the case will be dismissed or a not-guilty will likely be entered if the other driver decides to plead not guilty to the charges.

In my estimation, 75% of cases such as the one you are involved in gets dismissed because if the police officer doesn't show or the witness doesn't show, the case is dismissed because the state can't prove the charges. The Ticket is simply a "complaint" which will then have to be proven in court.

if you were injured or plan on filing a claim for personal injury, it is advisable that you show up in court--this often times results in a defendant pleading guilty. If he pleads guilty, then you can use the guilty plea against him in your civil case. If he does not plead guilty, then you cannot use the ticket against him in the civil matter--EVEN IF he is later found guilty after a trial.

I hope this helps

The information provided on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship


DA wants you to appear to prove the case. As stated, cop did not see the accident, only the aftermath. Defendant is not going to walk in and plea when there is hope that you will not show . Why would he not want to fight the ticket?

The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.


The reason you need to go to court is to provide a witness to the prosecuting attorney to prove his or her case against the Defendant. If this matter proceeds to trial, the prosecuting attorney would ask you questions concerning your observations prior to and at the time of the accident. Your answers/testimony would be considered by the judge/jury as evidence.

You will not learn whether the other driver is fighting the ticket unless you appear in court. However, if you fail to appear in court the ticket will likely be dismissed.

The Defendant may fight the ticket for a variety of reasons, including: he/she does not believe he/she is guitly of the charge; to avoid paying a fine; to avoid entering a guilty plea (which may be used against him or her in a civil matter); to avoid the charge being reported to the Illinois Secretary of State; and/or to avoid an increase in his or her insurance premiums.

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