Everyone has made mistakes in their life, and for some, poor judgment has landed them in trouble with the law. It could be a DUI, maybe a minor drug possession charge, or another type of offense. Maybe it was a long time ago, or maybe it was fairly recently. Unfortunately, could a past criminal record affect claim?
Does any of this matter when you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit? The short answer is it shouldn?t. But unfortunately, sometimes it does.
If you have been injured because of the negligence or recklessness of another party, you have a right to file a civil claim for monetary damages. Provided your criminal offense was not directly related in any way to the underlying accident or event that caused your injury, then your personal injury claim should stand on its own merits.
Although this is how it should be, the defendant in your lawsuit might still try to use your criminal history against you in order to undermine the credibility of your claim.
Will it work? That depends on how you and your attorney choose to deal with it. And this is one of many reasons why it is so important to be represented by a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who is well equipped to successfully navigate complications like these.
How an Opposing Counsel Might use your Criminal Background Against You
As we touched on earlier, the goal of your opponent in a personal injury lawsuit is to discredit you in hopes that the jury will either dismiss the case or significantly lower the amount of damages that are awarded. To accomplish this, they will look for ways to demonstrate that you are dishonest and therefore anything you tell the jury is highly questionable.
The opposing counsel is most likely to bring up a past criminal offense if it has something to do with fraud – for example, shoplifting, writing a bad check, or trying to pass counterfeit currency. They will argue that a criminal charge like this speaks directly to your credibility.
Before you get too worried about how your criminal record might affect your personal injury claim, it is important to point out that the vast majority of civil claims do not end up in front of a jury. A large percentage of them are settled before they ever get to trial, and many others get settled shortly after a trial begins. If your case does not end up being litigated, then it is highly unlikely that your criminal history will have much impact on it.
All of that said, there are still a number of cases that do go to trial. And on a related note, your attorney should have extensive litigation experience and the proven ability to secure favorable verdicts at trial. Without the credible threat of litigation, the other side will have very little incentive to offer you a reasonable settlement.
Sometimes, defendants are simply not willing to negotiate in good faith. When this happens, there may be no other alternative than to try the case. So, if you do end up in litigation, you need to be prepared to have your criminal history brought up.
How you Can Mitigate the Effects of Your Criminal History
First and foremost, when you are involved with a personal injury claim, you need to be totally honest and upfront with your attorney. The other side has professional investigators who will dig up everything they can to undermine your case, so it will only hurt your claim if you conceal damaging facts and they are later brought up by the other side. It is best to get everything out in the open early on, so your attorney can develop the most effective strategy to deal with anything that might weaken your case.
With regards to a past criminal offense, here are just a couple of ways your attorney might choose to handle it:
- Take a Proactive Approach: One way you might be able to mitigate the effects of past criminal offenses is to bring them up on your own terms before the other side has a chance to. This way, you can give the jury a proper perspective on what happened, which is more likely to be viewed favorably.
- Waive a Jury Trial: If you have a more serious offense and it was pretty recent, your attorney might decide to waive your right to a jury trial and have a judge decide your case. Judges tend to be less emotional, and they are more likely to make a ruling on the merits of the case, regardless of someone?s past criminal history.
ATLANTA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER NEAR ME | ATLANTA LAWYER NEAR ME
If you have you suffered an injury through no fault of your own, do not let a criminal record affect claim and keep you from pursuing the just compensation you deserve. Having a past criminal offense is not the end of the world, and there are many ways that a skilled attorney can effectively deal with this type of situation.
Our Atlanta personal injury law firm offers a track record of successfully managing car accident, truck accident, boating accident, motorcycle accident, wrongful death, catastrophic injury and other personal injury claims throughout Fulton County & the greater state of Georgia.
If your injury occurred in Georgia, Attorney Ross Moore is here to help. So can message us online or call our office today at (404) 905-3146. At Ross Moore Law, we are always ready with skilled legal advice and legal representation so schedule your initial free consultation today!
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