Many drivers have at least a few blemishes on their driving record, such as speeding, blasting through a stop sign and even previous car accidents. Such items on your driving record could indicate that you are an unsafe driver, but this is not always the case. For example, you may have run through a stop sign because it was blocked by a thick tree branch. Perhaps you have been in a few car accidents that were actually caused by other drivers.
Your driving record is used by insurance companies to determine their risk for insuring you, and a poor driving history can result in a much higher premium or even prevent you from getting coverage. Your driving history could also be used in another way that may have a significant impact on your life and finances. If you are involved in a car accident, an insurance company can try to use your driving record against you and lower their required payout on a claim.
Compensation for a Car Accident
Under Texas law, drivers are legally required to take financial responsibility for their actions on the road. If a driver injures you or damages your vehicle, you are legally entitled to compensation from that driver or his or her insurance company. Liability insurance companies often review a victim’s driving record as a means to reduce the compensation that they are required to pay out on na claim. Specifically, they may look for a conviction of drag racing, a hit-and-run accident, vehicular manslaughter, fleeing the scene and other crimes. While a single ticket may not be sufficient evidence for an insurance company to use, a history of speeding and other unsafe practices could be used to demonstrate your habitual behavior behind the wheel.
Auto insurance companies may use this information as justification to reduce the credibility of your side of the story and pay a lesser amount on the claim. They may also use some aspects of your driving history to allocate at least a portion of the liability on you. In some serious situations, the insurance may even try to assign full blame on you, and this would make you financially responsible for the accident if the strategy is successful. Compensation for your accident-related expenses may be essential for covering vehicle repairs, medical bills, lost wages and more. Serious hardship can occur if the other party’s insurance company is successful in allocating some or all of the blame onto you. Hiring a personal injury attorney is an important step to ensure that you receive full compensation for the accident that is permitted under the law..
Auto Negligence Laws
If you are a victim of a car accident, it may be obvious to you that the other party was entirely at fault. For example, that person may have turned right on red when a traffic sign specifically prohibited that action. However, you may have also played a role in the collision by speeding through the intersection. In this and other situations where both parties may have contributed to the accident in some way, they may be assigned a percentage of the blame. For example, the insurance companies or the court may determine that you are 30% liable and the other party is 70% liable. The related costs of the accident will then be divided appropriately. By trying to prove that you are an unsafe or negligent driver based on your driving record, the other party’s insurance company may attempt to distribute some of the financial liability to you. This holds true even if you actually had no fault in the accident.
Injuries from Previous Car Accidents
There are other ways that a car insurance company may try to avoid paying out on a claim. If the insurer sees on your driving history that you were in a previous accident, the company may state that your current injuries are pre-existing from your previous collision. If this tactic is successful, the insurance company will not have to compensate you for any related expenses. There is only one proven exception, and this is to show that the recent accident aggravated underlying issues. Your personal injury attorney can obtain the required documentation to support this exception and can properly present this information so that you get the compensation you deserve.
It would be a mistake to proceed through this serious matter without legal representation. Your personal injury lawyer will be aware of various strategies and laws that you may not be familiar with. For example, an insurance company may state that your injuries would not have been as severe if you did not already have pre-existing injuries. Without hiring a lawyer who is experienced in personal injury law, you may not know that this type of claim is not legally permissible under the eggshell skull rule.
When Your Driving Record Can Work in Your Favor
While drivers with a blemished driving record could find that previous accidents and convictions work against them, the opposite is true for drivers with a spotless history behind the wheel. If you have a clean driving record, your personal injury attorney can present it in court as proof of your safe driving practices. If the insurance company is trying to allocate some of the blame on you by proving negligence, this strategy can counter that tactic.
Regardless of whether you have a clean or patchy driving record, ensure that your lawyer has all of the facts. This can help your lawyer present the strongest case for you. Keep in mind that your lawyer is your personal advocate. In order to take advantage of his or her extensive knowledge of the law and develop the strongest case on your behalf, the lawyer must be aware of all circumstances and facts that may be related to the matter.
The At-Fault Driver’s History
Just as a poor driving record can be used against the victim in a car accident, it can also be used against the at-fault driver. Your lawyer can help you to research that person’s driving history. A pattern of moving violations, criminal convictions or collisions could be used to show that the driver has a history of negligence and unsafe driving practices. Generally, if one driver’s history will be admitted into the court record, the other driver’s history will also be presented. With this in mind, it may not be advisable to bring the other driver’s record out if your own driving record could be used against you.
When to Disclose Your Driving History
A good personal injury attorney will likely ask you about your driving record during an initial consultation. This is the best time to disclose all information about past convictions, accidents and citations. Your attorney will start working on your case immediately, and such information may play a key role in the representation strategy that the lawyer uses. In addition, such information prevents your lawyer from being caught off guard and unprepared.
While it is in your best interest to disclose your full driving history to your attorney, you are not required to do so. However, you may be legally required to provide information about your driving record in court. Your record does not need to come into play if your attorney and the insurance company are still trying to settle the matter. However, if the matter progresses to a lawsuit, there will be a discovery process where full facts are disclosed. At this time, you will be required to disclose your full driving history. Your personal injury lawyer will stand by you through the discovery stage as well as depositions and interrogations.
The Need for Financial Compensation After Being the Victim in a Car Accident
An auto accident may result in thousands of dollars or more in vehicle damages, or it could even result in a total loss. Often, injuries are sustained in a car accident as well. These injuries may require emergency medical attention, a hospital stay, surgeries, rehab therapy and more. Recovering from the injuries may keep you from working and earning a living for weeks, months or longer. In the most serious situations, a person may be permanently disabled and no longer able to work in the same job. Financial compensation may be essential for repairing your damaged vehicle or replacing a totaled vehicle. Compensation for medical bills and lost wages may be necessary to avoid financial stress and hardship. You cannot afford to let the other driver’s insurance company maneuver out of paying you the full amount that you are entitled to.
Request a Consultation with PM Law Firm Today
If you are the victim of another driver’s negligence or unsafe behaviors, Texas law requires the responsible party to pay for related expenses. Often, these expenses are paid for by the responsible party’s insurance company. If you become aware that the liability insurance company is trying to obtain your driving history, you need legal representation. Your attorney at PM Law Firm will help you to secure every penny that you are entitled to under the law. Reach out to our team today to request a consultation.