Can You Use Someone’s Driving Record Against Them in a Personal Injury Case?
It seems like the simplest thing: If you have been injured in a car accident because of someone’s negligence, you should be able to question their driving record. But it is not that simple. Even in a dramatic case that changed the lives of four families last summer.
A 33-year-old driver – drunk, high on meth, and fleeing police in a high-speed chase through the northern Denver metro area – crashed his truck headlong into a Chevy Impala full of teenagers. The driver fled the scene on foot before police finally apprehended him. Everyone survived, but not without major injuries, including multiple fractures and a severe brain injury.
The driver, who would go on to plead guilty to more than a dozen charges, had a 13-year-old criminal record that included multiple felonies and driving citations.
Do Driving Records Help in Personal Injury Lawsuits?
Anyone who has suffered personal injuries in a car accident might want access to the responsible party’s driving record in the fight to recover damages. But this typically falls under the prior bad acts rule, which prohibits the use of driving records, whether its speeding citations or DUIs. Simply put, a poor driving record or evidence of prior car accidents cannot be used as evidence that the driver drove negligently at the time of the accident in question.
However, in certain circumstances, the driver’s record can be used for other purposes. Typically the driving record can only be used to impeach the defendant’s credibility or if the defendant was driving while on the job at the time of the accident In these cases, the defendant’s driving record can be used to prove negligent hiring or negligent retention, either of which could impeach the employer for allowing an employer it knew (or should have known) was unfit to be driving on the job.
Finally, another exception to this rule is if the defendant’s record includes a felony conviction, such as a felony DUI. Felony convictions are admissible if they occurred within the last seven years (in Colorado). Such convictions are allowed to attack the defendant’s overall credibility. Any felony convictions or “misdemeanors crimes of dishonesty” can impeach credibility.
Do Not Go It Alone
There are hundreds of other questions like this when you are pursuing a personal injury complaint against someone you think is responsible for your injury. Experienced trial attorneys can answer these questions, expertly identify all necessary and critical evidence, and avoid mistakes during litigation. All of this can you help obtain the best possible compensation.