So the topic of this video is if you have been in trouble in the past, how does that affect the value of your personal injury case? Now, we’d run into this issue from time to time with personal injury clients who have past criminal records, whether it’s arrests, convictions, whatever the case may be, scrapes with the law and the topic comes up and they asked the question, okay, well what exactly does this mean to my case? Does it affect the value of my case? And unfortunately, the number, the answer to this question is generally speaking, yes it does. Now if you’re an insurance adjuster, what they do on every single case is they run a background check on the personal injury client on the claim it. And if they see multiple run ins with the law, again, it doesn’t matter what necessarily it is, but just scrapes with the law that shows up in the public record.
They then they then questioned the person’s credibility in this happens time in and time again. Uh, in fact, I have a client right now. Uh, I’ve handled multiple criminal cases for him in addition to multiple auto accident cases. And again, the insurance adjuster sees that he’s had multiple drug related crimes, has been in and out of halfway houses and sober living houses and thinks that’s a big deal. Despite the fact he’s never been convicted of anything and was really doing a lot of self medication from the pain. The adjuster brings this up every time I have a conversation with her to the point where we had to file a lawsuit to get a lawyer involved to explain to the adjuster, hey, none of these issues are admissible at trial. You can’t bring them up. But even still, it’s in the back of the adjusters mine and has negatively affected the value of the case.
So the general rule in Florida is that you can only be impeached. And this is in court with felony convictions or crimes of dishonesty or a false statement. So felony convictions are pretty easy to determine. You know, most people know how many felony convictions they have. It’s an easy number to calculate. What they don’t always know is what exactly are these crimes of dishonesty or false statement? Well, the most common crimes, uh, for crimes of dishonesty that come in for impeachment purposes are actually either petty theft or retail theft charges. So you may have had a scrape with the law, maybe a shoplifting charge. For example, you walked into court, paid a fine, and God convicted with no idea that that was considered a crime of dishonesty. And then here you are now in your personal injury case and that can be brought up and used against you to attack your credibility.
So it just something to think about. Now Florida doesn’t have a bright line rule test about the remoteness of the issue. So in for example, in federal law it’s 10 years, but in Florida the law just says, uh, the standard is whether the issue is so remote that it no longer has bearing on the credibility of the witness. So for example, the Florida courts use about 10 years as a rule, but it’s, it’s not, it’s not hard and fast. So if you’ve had multiple scrapes with the law or a lot of crimes that don’t look good, the judge will be more likely to admit that, uh, I’ve got a client right now who’s in his late sixties he had a few felony convictions from his twenties well, those are never going to come in despite the fact that they exist. There’s absolutely no way that a judge would allow that to come in at a trial. So those are the examples. So hopefully that answers your question in terms of how these scrapes with the law actually affect the value of your personal injury case.
*The above has been transcribed by a third party service and has not been checked for accuracy
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