Your poor driving record should not affect your car accident claim if you want to receive compensation for an accident caused by another driver’s negligence. However, there are cases where the at-fault party’s insurance provider finds ways to use your past driving record against you, such as when discrediting your credibility in court.

This is why it is essential to know the impact of a poor driving record on an injury claim and take actions to help defend your case.

What Is a Poor Driving Record?

A driving record reflects how responsible you are as a driver. A clean driving record has no violations, accidents, or traffic-related convictions within a certain period. On the other hand, you may appear to have a bad driving record if you have been charged with the following:

  • several law violations, 
  • speeding tickets,
  • auto accidents,
  • driving under the influence (DUI) and other traffic violations. 

However, not all accidents indicate that you have a poor driving record. A past crash record may not affect your case if the accident was not due to your negligence.

How Long Does an Accident Stay on My Driving Record?

Regardless of whether you were responsible for the collision or not, your accident will still appear on your driving record. Generally, an auto crash stays on your record for three to five years after the accident. In California, the accident typically lasts for three years. 

However, the duration of the accident on your record may increase depending on the nature of the case. If the cause of the crash is DUI or hit-and-run, the information will remain on your record for ten years. 

Suppose you are fortunately residing in a state that follows a point-based system for offenses, such as California. In that case, you may remove points from your license when you commit to and complete a defensive driving course. 


How Can my Driving Record Impact my Car Accident Claim?

While your record should not influence your ability to receive compensation for the damages, some insurers may use your poor driving record to argue that you have a wrong driving pattern.

The following are the common assertions of insurance companies if you have a blemished driving record. 

Insurance Company Argues That You Are Responsible For The Crash

Despite not being responsible for the collision, the other driver’s insurance provider can blame you and dismiss your claim if you have a history of poor driving. This is especially true if the cause of the crash is similar to your past violations.

For instance, if you have received several speeding tickets, and the cause of the accident is overspeeding, your credibility as a driver and innocence of the crash will likely be questioned. 

However, you can refute this argument if you have valid evidence to justify that the collision was due to the other driver’s negligence, such as:

  • Photos of the accident scene,
  • CCTV or surveillance footage of areas near the crash site,
  • Witness testimonies,
  • Vehicle repair costs, and
  • Doctor’s diagnosis of your injuries.


Aside from shifting the blame on you, they can also dismiss your case by insisting that you don’t have enough evidence to support your claim. This is why it is crucial to gather proof at the accident scene. 

If it is physically impossible for you to do so due to your injuries, your best bet to have solid evidence is to hire a legal expert who can investigate your accident. 

Insurance Company May Reduce Your Compensation

If the insurance company can’t put the entire blame on you, they will find a way to at least reduce your compensation. They can do this by proving that you are partially responsible for the crash. 

Suppose the crash is initially due to the other driver’s DUI offense. The insurance company may look into the other facts of the accident to reduce your compensation. If there are skid marks and further proof to justify your overspeeding, including your poor driving record, they are likely to use this against you. 

Following pure comparative negligence, a victim partly accountable for the collision can only recover part of their damages. For instance, if you are 30% at fault for the crash, you can seek 70% restitution. 

Likewise, the other party can also pursue compensation for the damages of the accident regardless of how significant their liability is. Let’s say they are 93% liable for the crash; they can then file a claim to recover 7% of the settlement amount.


Insurance Company May Downplay Your Injuries

Suppose you have prior accidents and offenses on your driving record. In that case, the other driver’s insurance provider may argue that the recent accident only worsened your injuries instead of causing them. This can be convincing if you fail to:

  • Consult the appropriate doctor for your damages,
  • Have the medications and treatments fitting to your injuries, or
  • Consistently adhere to the treatments and doctor’s appointments you need.

This is why it is crucial to avoid lapses in your treatments and keep all medical records and bills that can justify the cause of your injuries. Your medical documents have several legal implications that can strengthen your case, such as:

  • Show the cause of the injuries,
  • Provide the appropriate medications and treatments, and
  • Present the medical bills and expenses to be considered when calculating the settlement offer. 

Keep in mind that your injuries play a vital role in recovering compensation. Your accident lawyer can assist in getting the proper treatment and calculating the total damages of the crash.


Can My Driving Record be Used as Evidence in Court?

Generally, your past driving record should not be admissible in court under the Prior Acts Rule. However, there are specific instances when a poor driving record may be considered in court. 

The Prior Acts Rule

The Prior Acts Rule or Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) indicates that past acts or offenses are not admissible to prove a person’s character. In a car accident, their past poor driving record can’t be used in a trial to justify that the crash is due to the driver’s negligence. 


When Is A Driving Court Admissible in Court?

There are cases where a driving record may be admissible to show the following under certain circumstances:

  • Motive,
  • Opportunity,
  • Intent,
  • Preparation,
  • Plan,
  • Knowledge,
  • Identity, and
  • Absence of mistake or accident.


Scenario 1: When The Other Party Uses Their Driving Record

A driving record may be used to counter assertions. For instance, suppose the other driver mentions their clean driving record to justify their innocence in the crash. You may check their past driving record and use it to oppose their argument. 

Their driving record can also be used as supporting facts if the other driver says that they never had a traffic violation related to your case. In such instances, you may present their past poor driving record to smear their credibility.


Scenario 2: The Other Party is A Commercial Driver

If the auto collision is due to a commercial driver’s negligence. You may have their past driving record as evidence to prove the following:

  • Negligent hiring – the employer of the driver failed to conduct examinations and check the employee’s background before hiring, or
  • Negligent retention– the employer hired the employee despite their poor driving record and performance.

In these cases, you may file a claim against the employer and recover damages from their insurance provider. 


Scenario 3: The Driver Committed Felony or Manslaughter

If the other driver has prior felony or manslaughter convictions, their record would be admissible to discredit their overall credibility. Their history will be used against them in any case, regardless if it is vehicle accident-related or not. 


How Can I Defend My Car Accident Claim?

Defending your claim may be challenging, especially if the other party uses your poor driving record to ruin your credibility. You will need to have enough evidence to justify that the accident has nothing to do with your driving behavior. 

In addition, you will also have to remain steady with your claim and avoid being pressured by the insurance company in case they bring up your past driving record. 

In such cases, it is best to hire an experienced injury lawyer who can defend your car accident claim regardless of your prior acts of negligence. An attorney can win your case by:

  • Examining the facts of the accident,
  • Collecting evidence to prove your claim,
  • Calculating the total damages, 
  • Communicating with the insurance provider,
  • Refuting arguments to defend your claim,
  • Protecting your rights.

If you are searching for a legal expert to defend your case, the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker has qualified personal injury lawyers with a winning track record of car accident claims in Southern California. 

We have protected the rights of innocent drivers despite their past poor driving records and helped them claim the compensation they deserve. Call our office at 866-311-2457 to schedule a free legal consultation to learn how to win your case!