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Can Criminal History Affect My Car Accident Case?

Having a criminal record can make several aspects of your life difficult, from getting a job to finding housing. And personal injury claims are no exception. Even a minor conviction, such as a traffic ticket, can harm your chances of recovering damages in a civil lawsuit. The good news is, however, that a skilled MA personal injury lawyer can help you navigate these murky waters and obtain the compensation you deserve following an accident or injury.

Is the Evidence Admissible?

In most personal injury cases, criminal convictions will not be admissible in court unless they are relevant to the matter at hand. In fact, criminal convictions are thoroughly reviewed to determine whether they will create an unfair prejudice. If a conviction is deemed relevant, it may still be excluded if the judge determines that the evidence would cause an unfair bias.

If evidence of a criminal conviction is admitted, even a minor offense can call your credibility into question. This is especially true if the crime involved dishonesty. For example, if you were busted for passing a bad check ten years ago, why should the court believe your personal injury claim today? The fact that you were a starving, reckless college student at the time and you’ve since become a responsible, hardworking father of two may not be enough. This is where experienced legal counsel is essential. A Boston injury attorney can help position you for the most favorable outcome if you find yourself in this situation.

What is Impeachment?

Despite the fact that googling the word impeachment is more likely to bring up images of President Trump these days, impeachment doesn’t only apply to controversial presidents. It is also a legal term that refers to catching a witness in a lie. If, for example, you claim that you were injured when another driver smashed into your car at an intersection, your own driving behaviors may be called into question. If you claim to be a safe driver, evidence of past speeding tickets could be admitted to destroy your credibility. This is known as impeachment.

Regardless of your criminal history, or lack thereof, personal injury claims require the help of a knowledgeable injury lawyer. As a rule of thumb, the nature and severity of your crime, and the length of time since the crime was committed, will factor heavily on the level of impact the conviction will have on your case. For example, a OUI offense from ten years ago is unlikely to have much, if any, impact on your case. A recent felony, however, is likely to impact your case significantly. Further, crimes that involve dishonesty and deception, such as forgery and fraud, can take a massive toll on your personal injury claim because they call your credibility into serious question.

Honesty is the Best Policy

One piece of advice – be honest with your lawyer. Although it may be embarrassing to admit past offenses and convictions, such as forgery, passing bad checks, and even petty theft, keep in mind that your attorney will perform a thorough background check and will likely discover these convictions on his or her own. You may think that having this evidence admitted against you is the worst possible scenario, but it will be much worse if the convictions come up during cross examination. If that happens, proving that you’ve learned from your past mistakes will be nearly impossible. In this case, honesty is always the best policy.

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