Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Importance of Attending Traffic Court to Testify

Yesterday I accompanied my client to traffic court at the Daley Center to support him in testifying against the driver that hit the client while he was riding his bike in April. The driver, who we allege caused the bicycle accident earlier this spring at the intersection of Roosevelt and Canal in Chicago, was ticketed at the scene.

Fast forward a couple of months and the traffic court hearing for the traffic ticket issued to the driver was set for yesterday. The case where the municipality (city) or state prosecute a driver for a ticket for a violation of a Rule of the Road that result in a bike accident is essentially a criminal matter. While we often don't think of a person that gets a traffic ticket as a "criminal," the bottom line is there was a law in place and they broke it. While often there isn't any criminal intent like we find in more severe crimes, the point is that it is a relatively serious matter.

This is the first reason I encourage all of my clients to attend traffic court and be available as a "complaining witness." As a lawyer that handles a lot of civil cases stemming from bicycle accidents, I think it is very important that these cases be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The fact of the matter is in a busy traffic courtroom, if the police officer or complaining witness aren't available, the case is usually dismissed.

The second reason I encourage my clients to attend traffic court is that by their being there the offending driver may realize that there is a strong case against them and choose to plead guilty. In this event, as the attorney in the civil case for the bicyclist's personal injuries sustained in the accident, I can use the guilty plea in the criminal case as an admission of guilt. Contrarily if the criminal case is dismissed or even if the offending driver is found guilty, those results in the criminal case can't be used in the personal injury case against the driver.

The bottom line is that I view the relationship with my clients in someways as a "team." I'm there to support my clients in any way I can to help them deal with the aftermath of getting injured in a bike accident because of some driver's mistake. Whether its assisting in the criminal case or doing everything I can in the civil case, I always "push" the case.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.