Prepaying your ticket for an auto accident = admitting fault

Did you know that prepaying your ticket for an auto accident amounts to an admission that the accident was your fault? If you prepay, and if the other driver decides to sue, you can bet that your prepayment of the ticket will be used against you.

This is because Virginia Code § 8.01-418 provides that if a defendant “pled guilty or nolo contendere or suffered a forfeiture in a prosecution for a criminal offense or traffic infraction,” then evidence of that “plea or forfeiture as shown by the records of the criminal court shall be admissible”  in a later civil action based on the same accident.

At the time of a minor fender-bender, a civil lawsuit for hundreds of thousands of dollars seems unthinkable–damage to the cars is minor, the other driver says he’s OK–and prepayment of a relatively minor fee seems worth it to avoid the nuisance of a court appearance, but don’t make this decision blindly. Before prepaying, you may want to ask your insurance company whether the other driver has settled his claims, or to consult an attorney.

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