How a Criminal Record Can Affect a Car Accident Injury Case
If you are injured in a car accident in Mississippi, you have the right to file a tort claim against the party that was responsible for the accident and seeks damages. The amount of compensation you can recover from the at-fault party depends on a number of factors – from the severity of your injuries to your criminal record.
As surprising as it might sound, your criminal record can have an impact on your personal injury case under certain circumstances.
Impact of Criminal Record on Personal Injury Claims
When you file a car accident claim against someone – or any tort claim for that matter – the at-fault party’s insurance company will try to use every trick in the book and then some to deny your claim outright or to pay you as little as they possibly can.
One of the common strategies that insurance companies tend to use to discredit a plaintiff’s claim is to question the severity of their injuries. This is where your criminal record can sometimes come into the picture.
For example, if you were convicted of a criminal offense that involved an element of fraud, forgery, or dishonesty, the insurance company might try to make the argument that you have a history of deceiving people and your claims against the at-fault party cannot be trusted.
While your conviction might not be directly related to your personal injury claim, the jury might be hesitant to award you a substantial amount of compensation – especially if the offense in question was a felony or if it involved what can be considered grave criminal misconduct.
Similarly, if you were convicted of a traffic offense like speeding or reckless driving, the insurance company might argue that you are not a safe driver and that your own negligence played a significant part in the accident.
On the other hand, if you were convicted of an offense that did not involve an element of fraud or forgery, or unsafe driving, the insurance company might not be able to hold it against you.
For instance, if you were convicted of simple assault, the insurance company might not be able to use it against you to argue that you are a dishonest person. This is because a simple assault conviction only shows that you lost your temper at some point and let your emotions get the best of you. It should not be considered a mark on your integrity.
Moreover, even if the offense in question did involve an element of fraud, the insurance company might not be able to use it against you if it happened a long time ago. For instance, if you were convicted of forgery 15 years ago but have turned your life around since then and have not had any run-ins with the law, it is unlikely to have any impact on your personal injury case.
Filing a Car Accident Claim with a Criminal Record – What You Should Keep in Mind
First and foremost, you should hire an experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyer to handle your claim. Handling a personal injury claim on your own can be a tough task even under the best of circumstances. If you have a criminal record, it can be extremely difficult for you to get the insurer to pay you the compensation you deserve.
Be honest with your lawyer and tell them everything about your criminal record. It will make it easier for your lawyer to anticipate the defendant’s moves and prepare accordingly. In some cases, your lawyer might decide to bring up your criminal history during the negotiations or during the trial – before the defendant’s attorney has a chance to do so. By doing so, your lawyer can put things in the right perspective and prevent the other side from questioning your character.
Depending on the nature of the offense you were convicted for and how long it has been since you were convicted, your lawyer might ask you to waive your right to a jury trial and choose to present your case before a judge instead. This is because judges – unlike juries – tend to be more dispassionate in their approach. You can usually expect them to make a just decision based on the evidence presented and the arguments made.
Need to File a Car Accident Claim? Let Our Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyers Help!
If you need to file a car accident claim and you are worried that your criminal record might hamper your chances of recovering damages, the experienced car accident lawyers at Gardner Law Firm can help you.
We have over 55 years of combined experience and have recovered tens of millions of dollars in damages for our clients. We can build a strong case against the party that injured you, take steps to minimize the impact of your criminal record on your claim, and fight relentlessly to recover the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
To discuss your car accident claim with one of our Mississippi personal injury attorneys, call us today at 228-436-6555 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation.