Can a Criminal Record Affect Personal Injury Claims?
There are some circumstances in which criminal activity could play a role in a personal injury case.
Technically, there will be no relationship between a past crime and an injury claim. However, juries may perceive people who have a criminal record in a negative manner, especially if the record is relatively recent.
This is one of the reasons why it’s beneficial to avoid a jury trial in an injury claim. When settling out of court, you don’t have to worry about any criminal past coming up.
What about related crimes?
If, however, a defendant in an injury lawsuit also committed a crime that was related to the case, this could indeed have an impact on the injury claim.
As an example, let’s say a person drove while intoxicated and ended up hitting and severely injuring a pedestrian. A criminal DUI charge and conviction would absolutely be relevant to any ensuing personal injury claim filed by the pedestrian.
In an injury case, the victim is responsible for proving liability on the part of the defendant. A criminal charge or conviction directly related to the crime, such as a drunk driving conviction, would serve as strong evidence of the defendant’s liability.
In addition, depending on the circumstances of the accident in that example scenario, there is a possibility the plaintiff could see an enhanced damage amount if the conduct of the defendant was particularly reckless, egregious or negligent. One example of such egregious conduct could be a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit, or if the defendant left the scene of the accident.
So while a past criminal record should not (and probably will not) affect personal injury claims, criminal charges or convictions directly related to the injury definitely will. For more information about filing a personal injury claim, contact an experienced attorney at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia LLP.