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Why A Person’s Driving Record Makes Little Difference in a Car Accident Lawsuit

By: Matthew Tievsky

Every so often, we have a case in which our client is worried that their poor driving record is going to be a problem for them if we bring a lawsuit on their behalf, arising out of an auto collision. In other cases, we learn that it was the defendant who had a long record of speeding violations, multiple prior car crashes, a suspended driver’s license, or something similar.

However, as a general rule, a person’s driving record will not make a difference in a car accident case. There is a legal rule that bars evidence of "prior bad acts," which means that, as a general rule, the bad things that a person has done in the past – for example, gotten into previous auto collisions – can’t be introduced at trial to prove that the person caused this auto collision. That’s true no matter how many times a person has crashed their car. Generally, the only facts that can be introduced at trial in an auto collision case, are the facts of what happened in the collision itself.

But there is at least one scenario where a defendant’s bad driving record may come into play: If the defendant driver who caused the auto collision had a bad driving record, and was working as the employee of a business, you may be able to sue the business on the ground that it was irresponsible for the business to hire the defendant. In that case, you can introduce the defendant’s driving record at trial.

This is especially true in cases involving truck accidents, bus accidents, and crashes involving other commercial vehicles, as the companies which employ commercial drivers have responsibilities for ensuring the safety of their passengers and the public. Hiring an employee with a known record for poor driving, unsafe behaviors, and other red flags, or retaining drivers after they compile such a record, could be considered a negligent act because it places others at risk of suffering foreseeable injuries.

It takes good legal advice to know whether a person’s poor driving record can be used against them in court, and to use such record when appropriate for pursuing the compensation victims deserve. If you have been injured by a driver who had a history of causing collisions, you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel for a free consultation to discuss your case.