You try your best to be a responsible and cautious driver. You obey all the traffic laws and abstain from bad habits that would impair your driving ability. But sometimes accidents happen when you least expect it.
After reviewing the evidence, you may feel it was the other driver’s fault. You may be entitled to compensation if another party negligently caused you to be injured in a car accident.
So, normally, you begin the process of getting compensated by filing a personal injury claim for the accident. But once you file a claim, the insurance company starts to investigate your driving record. Maybe you had some minor accidents or fender benders. Or perhaps the accidents were serious.
At this point, it is perfectly natural to wonder, Will my driving record affect my injury claim? The answer is yes. Insurance companies will try to use your driving record to escape liability for the accident. They will try to use your driving record to prove a history of negligent driving or to show pre-existing injuries. If they succeed in showing that you were partly at fault, you will not be able to recover any compensation.
Contact a personal injury attorney for the best possible outcome in your case. They can help establish that you were not to blame and that you should receive compensation.
Insurance Companies Use Driving Records to Prove Fault
You can file a personal injury claim against the negligent driver even if you have a poor driving record. However, insurance companies often try to blame you because it saves them money. This is important because Virginia is a contributory negligence state. This is a strict doctrine that only a handful of states use, and Virginia is one such state.
With contributory negligence, a party must be fully responsible for the accident to be held liable. In other words, you cannot recover compensation for an accident if you are partially at fault. For example, if you were 1% at fault for the accident and the other party was 99% at fault, you are barred from recovering any compensation. The defendant party must be 100% responsible for the accident for you to be able to collect compensation.
With this stringent rule, insurance companies will fight to push the fault on you. They may use your negligent driving history to strengthen their argument that you were negligent in the current accident. For example, if you have a history of not stopping at a red light, they will use this information to support their claim that you were negligent in this case. Remember, they only need to prove you were 1% at fault to avoid liability altogether. Your lawyer can help you fight against this.
Insurance Companies May Use Driving Records to Establish Injuries Were Pre-Existing
You can only recover compensation for injuries that resulted from the accident. If your driving history includes accidents where you were hurt, insurance companies may use this information to prove that your injuries were pre-existing. If the insurance company successfully argues that your injuries resulted from a prior accident, then you will not be able to recover any damages.
For example, suppose you hurt your back in an accident. Months later, you have another accident. You claim you injured your back. The other party’s insurance company will investigate your driving record and find the back injury from the first accident. They will argue that the back injury was pre-existing from the first accident and are not liable.
Good Driving Records Can Help Claims
Alternatively, a driving record can help your claim. If you are a good driver with a favorable driving record, then use your driving record as evidence of your good behavior. Your good driving record will cast doubt on the notion that you were the negligent driver. A personal injury attorney can help you use your driving record to advocate your position.
Contact The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, for a Free Consultation
At The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, we recognize this is a difficult time for you. Being the victim of an accident is often distressing and overwhelming. But you don’t have to face this difficult time alone. An attorney can take some of the weight off your shoulders so you can focus on getting better.
Founder Carlton Bennett has over 40 years of legal experience. He graduated from the University of Florida College of Law in 1975. He is licensed to practice law in Florida and Virginia. He was selected to Super Lawyers for 17 years, from 2006 to 2023.
With Carlton, every client gets a tailored approach to their case. Our goal is to get you the maximum compensation. Contact us for more information on how we can help you.