Have you been in a traffic accident but have old driving convictions or points on your license? If so, it is important to understand how a bad driving record could affect your car crash claim.
For starters, if you have a bad driving record, insurance companies will consider you a high-risk driver and increase your insurance premiums. However, paying a higher insurance bill may not be the only consequence. People with prior driving convictions may find it harder to seek compensation after a car crash, even if they are not at fault.
Below, we explain some of the ways a bad driving record could affect a future injury claim.
If you need help after a car crash in Pennsylvania, call our law offices 24/7. You can request a completely FREE case review to discuss your situation. Our Harrisburg collision lawyers have extensive experience and are ready to help.
What is a Bad Driving Record?
If you have a bad driving record, it is likely not because you got a speeding ticket one time.
Someone with a bad driving record has a habit of committing traffic violations. For instance, if a driver has a history of getting tickets for speeding or running a red light. This history is especially damaging in a car crash claim because it shows a pattern of disrespect for the law.
A bad driving record could also include one or more criminal traffic violations, such as:
- Committing assault with your vehicle
- Leaving the scene of a car crash, especially one where someone suffered bodily harm
- Driving while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other substances
- Urban drag racing
- Deliberately committing assault with your vehicle
What if I Have a Bad Driving Record and Get Injured in a Car Crash?
Having a bad driving record does not automatically bar you from filing an injury claim. It also does not make you liable for a crash you did not cause.
If another driver’s negligence caused a crash and your injuries, you are within your right to seek compensation for damages. That said, if you have prior convictions on your driving record, it could make your claim more challenging.
The Insurance Company Will Use Your Bad Driving Record Against You
Insurance companies always look for ways to reduce what they pay out on an injury claim. This is why their interests do not align with yours. The insurance company’s first objective is to protect its bottom line.
If you have a bad driving record, the insurance company will look for a way to use it against you. One common approach they take is to cast doubt on the injured victim’s credibility.
For instance, say you had a prior DUI conviction on your driving record. Even if that old DUI did not involve a crash, the defendant’s attorney may use it to try to impeach your credibility. This is how it could work:
- You testify that you are usually a safe driver who follows traffic laws
- The defendant’s attorney brings up your old DUI conviction to show otherwise
- This evidence casts doubt on your credibility and your statements about the crash
Even if you had a DUI a few years ago and you have become a more responsible driver, it could seriously damage your claim.
In another example, you may have a prior conviction for speeding. The insurance company may try to say you have a habit of speeding and reckless driving. If the at-fault driver lies to the insurance company and there are no witnesses to the crash, your claim could become a “he said, she said” situation.
When Do Tickets Get Added to My Driving Record?
If you are cited for a traffic violation, you have a ticket, not a driving conviction. At this stage, the violation is not yet on your driving record and no points have been added to your license. A ticket officially becomes a conviction, adding points to your driving record, when you:
- Plead guilty to the violation
- Pay the fine without contesting
- Decide to contest the ticket, but fail to show up in court
- Fight the violation and lose
How Long Will Past Tickets Stay on My Driving Record?
Past traffic violations can stay on your driving record for a long time, years even, depending on your driving record going forward. Paying the fine does not clear your points or remove the violations from your record. Under Pennsylvania’s point system, three points get removed from your record for every 12 consecutive months you remain violation-free.
How an Attorney May Be Able to Help
Bad driving record or not, you have the right to seek legal help if another driver caused you to suffer harm.
When you hire an attorney, you gain the benefit of attorney-client confidentiality. This means you can, and should, be completely honest about your situation. This alone could greatly benefit a legal claim. If your attorney is forewarned, he or she can be better prepared to protect your interests.
The important thing is not to delay seeking legal help. Once you are working with an attorney, he or she can fully manage your case by:
- Investigating the cause of your crash
- Communicating with the insurance company on your behalf
- Developing strategies to limit damage from things that could hurt your case
- Negotiate and fight for the maximum possible compensation
Contact Our Firm to Discuss Your Situation Today
At Schmidt Kramer, our law firm offers a free initial consultation to discuss your car crash. If you do not have a case, we will not waste your time or money. However, if we feel you do have a case we can win and you choose to hire our firm, there are no upfront fees or costs. We only get paid if we win your case.
Millions Recovered. Proven Results. (717) 727-1403