The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.
For the most part, a defendant’s driving record is inadmissible in a personal injury case. However, if the defendant was charged with a traffic offense as a result of the car accident and the defendant pled guilty or nolo contendere or suffered a forfeiture in the prosecution of the traffic offense, then evidence of the defendant’s plea or forfeiture is usually admissible at trial.
In a hypothetical personal injury case involving a rear-end accident, if the defendant was charged with following too closely as a result of the accident and the defendant pled guilty to that charge, the jury would be permitted to know about the defendant’s guilty plea to the charge. In this hypothetical scenario, the defendant’s guilty plea is considered to be an admission by the defendant that he or she was following too closely, and the plaintiff’s lawyer will be permitted to argue to the jury that the defendant’s admission to following too closely shows that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries.
Staying with the hypothetical personal injury case described above, evidence of traffic convictions for the defendant that do not arise from the car accident in question are usually inadmissible at trial, unless the defendant has a history of a felony on his or her driving record. For the most part, a jury is permitted to hear evidence that a party to a lawsuit has been convicted, as an adult, of a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, meaning a crime involving deception, trickery, forgery, lying, cheating, or stealing. The nature of the prior felony conviction or conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude is usually inadmissible, unless the party denies having such a prior conviction, in which case evidence of the nature of the prior conviction is ordinarily allowed. Traffic convictions generally do not fall within the category of misdemeanors involving moral turpitude, but some traffic convictions do fall within the category of a felony. If the defendant in the hypothetical scenario described above had a felony conviction on his or her driving record, the jury would be permitted to know that the defendant had previously been convicted of a felony, and if the defendant denied ever being convicted of a felony, the jury would be permitted to hear evidence of the nature of the defendant’s felony conviction, if the defendant was an adult at the time he or she committed the felony.
Questions regarding the admissibility of evidence, including evidence of a defendant’s criminal history, are specific to the facts of the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach. We can determine whether the defendant’s criminal history falls within one of the categories of admissible evidence and can determine how such evidence can be presented at trial. As in all personal injury cases, our personal injury lawyers can also advise the injured person as to the value of the personal injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making an injury claim with the applicable insurance company or companies, and can represent the injured person in the litigation of the personal injury claim, if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary.
Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.