Can Your Driving Record Affect Your Injury Claim?
If you were a car accident victim and want to file a claim, you have every right to do so. However, you may be worried about your driving record and wondering how it can affect the process. Here’s everything you should know.
You Can File a Claim Regardless of Your Driving Record
Past accidents shouldn’t bar you from filing an insurance claim after you suffered from an injury. However, past driving records can affect insurance rates, and every insurance company would try to use bad records against you.
How Insurance Companies May Use Records Against You
An insurance company may try to counter your claim with the argument that you were at fault for the car accident and deny or reduce the financial compensation you asked for. Since every state has negligence laws, insurance companies are likely to use bad driving history to paint you as a routinely negligent driver.
Insurance Companies May Claim Your Injuries Are Pre-Existing
Another common trick insurance companies try to do when there’s an existing driving record of past accidents is to convince the jury that your injuries are pre-existing. This is why you need an experienced lawyer that can help you prove that is not the case. If this is the case, a lawyer can also help you argue that your new injuries would have never been so bad if you didn’t already have a pre-existing condition.
In other words, the insurance companies should take you as you are, which is called the eggshell skull doctrine.
When Is It Helpful to Have Driving Records Introduced in Court
Of course, not all driving records have to be bad, and if you have a clean record, your lawyer may use it in court as it may serve as a counter to claims of your negligence, demonstrating that you are a careful driver.
Also, if the at-fault driver has a bad driving record, your attorney may be able to use it to strengthen your case by demonstrating a pattern of negligence.
Either way, you should always consider contacting a professional lawyer, and this is what we at Legal Chiefs are here for. Regardless of your driving experience or records, we’ll get you in touch with an attorney that will help you in court.
Auto Accident FAQ
Your first and foremost action following an accident is to stay calm, check if you or anyone else involved has been injured, and call the police. Get the name and contact information of all parties involved in the accident as well as any witnesses of the event. To document the damage, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles, and your injuries. It’s important not to admit liability until you hire an attorney because they will conduct a thorough investigation to establish the driver at fault.
Right after a car accident, you may feel fine, but injuries can surface days, weeks, and even months later. That’s why it’s good to see a doctor even if you don’t believe you were injured in the accident. Your doctor can recognize issues or injuries that won’t immediately become apparent to you and alert you to warning signs of injuries that may arise due to the accident. If you fail to treat your injuries within a certain period of time, you may forfeit your right to get reimbursement for future medical costs. The general rule is not to settle auto accident claims without having been examined by a medical professional.
In most cases, you won’t have to go to court. The majority of auto accident claims are resolved outside of court after negotiating the terms with the insurer. Most insurance companies generally try to settle claims as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible, so it’s wise to have an attorney negotiate on your behalf.
In addition to taking pictures of the accident scene and taking the contact information of the involved parties and witnesses, your detailed explanation of how the accident happened is also necessary to file a claim. Law enforcement reports of the accident will also serve as crucial evidence in your claim.
Many factors determine the driver at fault in an auto accident case. Do not accept any part of the blame until the investigation has concluded. Even if the investigation finds that you are partially at fault, you may still be entitled to receive compensation.
There are cases when the victim also shares part of the blame for an accident. If, for example, you were driving five to ten mph over the speed limit when the accident happened, this would have limited your reaction time, and you could likely be considered a negligent driver even if you weren’t the one to cause the crash. Different states have different ways of settling auto accident claims where more than one driver is at fault. So it’s best to check the specific laws in your state (or the state where the accident took place) or discuss the matter with your auto accident injury lawyer.
It happens surprisingly often that people get into an auto accident where the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance. In these situations, it’s wise to have an auto insurance policy that comes with Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. That way, if you get into an accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you will still be able to file your claim under the UM coverage you have with your own insurance company. Your insurer will then process the claim following the same process as it would for an opposing insurer. The only difference is that the claim will be against your UM coverage and not against another driver.
Likewise, if you were involved in a hit-and-run accident where the responsible driver fled the scene before you could take their information, you can again seek compensation from your UM coverage.
Suppose you suffered injuries after an auto accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence. In that case, there are two main types of damages that you may seek compensation for: compensatory (a.k.a. monetary) and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are the most common type of damages in a personal injury claim, and they often include:
● Current and future medical bills
● Property damage
● Emotional duress
● Lost wages
● Loss of enjoyment of life
● Loss of future earnings potential
On the other hand, punitive damages are much rarer, but they can occur in situations where the vehicle manufacturer is to blame.