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Am being treated for concussion from car accident.Will ins company try to destroy my character in court, since inj is invisible?

Atlanta, GA |

I was rear-ended and suffered a concussion w ongoing symptoms (confirmed by 3 good/reputable dr.s). Now insurance company is stalling, and we may end up in court. I'm okay with that since I am telling the truth but I'm worried...

When I was a teen, 10 years ago, I was arrested for shoplifting. The charges were dismissed, but will the insurance company be able to use my arrest record against me if my case against their defendant goes to trial?

Attorney Answers 10

  1. Yes, the ins. Co. Will attempt to disparage your character and your credibility. If your lawyer knows how to try a case your arrest should be kept out of evidence. However, the defendant's ins. co. lawyer has many other ways to try to destroy your credibility.

    Disclaimer: This response is provided to you by attorney Robert G. Rothstein (404) 216-1422 for educational and informational purposes only.No attorney-client relationship has been created hereby. Other attorneys may have different opinions or responses. If you found this response helpful, please indicate Best Answer to Avvo. Thank you.

  2. I think you have likely sized up the situation correctly. Consult with a good personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to get the help you need. Initial consultations are usually free and most injury lawyers offer contingency fee contracts - only get paid if they recover money for you. I hope this helps.

    Trust your gut instinct on this.

    Retain a good lawyer.

  3. Without a lawyer, you'll be obliterated. Retain a local personal injury lawyer to fight for you.

  4. I don't know why that is admissible in Georgia. In New York, only felony convictions within the last 10 years, give or take, are admissible. Arrests are never admissible, and an arrest is probative of nothing. Arguably, an arrest is not even discoverable at a deposition. Nevertheless, your lawyer will make a motion in limine to preclude such bogus "character evidence." That is one of many reasons you need a lawyer.

    We are serious lawyers for the seriously injured. I am a co-author of WEITZ ON AUTOMOBILE LITIGATION: THE NO FAULT HANDBOOK. The opinions expressed in this answer are not legal advice. These opinions are based on New York practice. We have no attorney-client relationship. Conducting a conversation with me through the avvo comments section does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  5. All the lawyers make good points, but do not be intimidated. I tell my client's you are married to your medical records. Be sure to go to all your doctor appointments and therapy sessions. Explain the problems your are experiencing in each visit. That will help you receive the best treatment. The shoplifting, I would not worry about, as Mr Weitz said your attorney will take care of it. Good Luck!

  6. I recently resolved a case on behalf of a client with postconcussive syndrome following a car wreck, and you're right to suspect that the insurer will try to suggest that your injury is exaggerated. However, if multiple reputable doctors can (and WILL) back you up, and if you have friends and family that will confirm your symptoms, you should be able to weather that storm. In my opinion, the testimony from friends and family can be more persuasive to a jury than anything doctors or other "experts" can say. If your injuries are real (and you end up with a good trial lawyer), the insurer will end up looking bad in front of the jury if it falsely accuses you of exaggerating symptoms. "Blame the victim" is not always a good trial strategy.

    As to your ten-year-old arrest, rest easy. That should be inadmissible in Georgia, especially given Georgia's recent adoption of most of the federal rules of evidence (assuming it was not an aggravated crime and was charged as a misdemeanor). Most courts have been clear that shoplifting has nothing to do with "truthfulness," and the arrest will likely be inadmissible for that reason, particularly because it was not a conviction.

  7. Since the shoplifting occurred when you where a minor it is most likely not admissible in court.

    That being said, it will be the insurance companies goal to make you look dishonest in order to convince the judge and jury that you are exaggerating your injuries. I would get an attorney as soon as possible. The attorney may still be able to settle the case out of court, but if you go to court you will need someone with the skills and experience to help you through the process.

  8. You don't say how old you were when you were arrested for shoplifting as a teen. If you were 18 or 19 you were an adult and don't have the same protections as if you were a minor.

    You don't say what happened after the arrest. Did you plead guilty, and if so, to what? Did you to trial and were you convicted? If so, of what? In general an arrest without a judicial determination of guilt should not be admissible.

    A local lawyer can advise whether or not this can be kept out.

  9. You should definitely contact an attorney who specializes in personal injury and car accident cases. Our firm has handled multiple head injury and traumatic brain injury cases, in car accident cases and in other settings. Insurance companies will use whatever they can to minimize your damages although you should not assume they will have access to your arrest record from your teenage years, or that that arrest would be admissible in court. Regardless, you are far more likely to obtain a fair settlement or to prevail in court with an attorney representing you. Best regards,
    Mary Lewis

  10. If your physicians, particularly a neurologist, will testify that to a reasonable degree of medical probablity (that Is more likely than not), you suffered a concusion and still have issues you can get that part of your case considered by the jury. That fact has value in determinig the value of your case. A good neuropsychologist can evaluate your condition and confirm that you suffered a head injury and can testify to your current condition If your medical records show a loss of consciousness at the time of the accident, that will help your claim. The insurance company lawyer will look at the glascow coma scale in your medical records (usually in the ER records of that of the emergency responders) and attempt to say that those scores show little or no closed head injury. A good physician will testify that this scale is not determinative of whether or not you suffered a brain injury and should not be used by the insurance company to contradict the Drs's testimony that you had a concussion.
    As far as the criminal charges are concerned you were not convicted and arrest records should not be admissable in court. If more than 10 years old, a prior conviction is not going be used in the case unless the court rules that the probative value of the evidence of the conviction ( that is the importance of that conviction to the issues in the case) outweighs the prejudicial effect of the evidence of the conviction. Since you have no conviction it will not be in evidence against you. A good personal injury attorney will know how to handle these issues.
    Good luck . Don't be afraid to to present the truth of your case.

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