Sacramento Driver’s Prior Car Accidents Not Relevant At Trial, Part 3 of 5

(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this car accident case and its proceedings.)

Evidence of Mr. White’s prior motor-vehicle incidents is inadmissible as they are irrelevant. The general rule regarding inadmissibility of plaintiff’s prior accidents was discussed in Downing v. Barrett Mobile Home Transport, Inc. (1974) 38 Cal.App.3d 519, 525 when the Court stated:

Generally, evidence that a litigant was involved in a prior accident is inadmissible when its only purported relevance is to show a propensity for negligent acts, thus enhancing the probability of negligence on the occasion in suit. (Prichard v. Veterans Cab. Co., 63 Cal.2d 727 [47 Cal.Rptr. 904, 408 P.2d 360]; Travis v. Southern Pacific Co., 210 Cal.App.2d 410 [26 Cal.Rptr. 700]; George v. Kleinbrodt, 206 Cal.App.2d 224 [23 Cal.Rptr. 822]; Shmatovich v. New Sonoma Creamery, 187 Cal.App.2d 342 [9 Cal.Rptr. 630]; 1 Wigmore on Evidence (3d ed. 1940) § 199; McCormick on Evidence (2d ed. 1972) § 189; Witkin, Cal. Evidence (2d ed. 1966) § 350.)

The policy basis of this prohibitory rule rests on the fact that the probative force of this kind of evidence is too slight to overbear the dangers of prejudice, distraction by side issues, and unfair surprise (Wigmore, op. cit.). (8) While evidence of a prior accident is admissible to show that a present physical condition has a cause antecedent to the accident being litigated (Johnson v. Matson Navigation Co., 163 Cal.App.2d 336 [329 P.2d 375]; Browning v. King, supra, 159 Cal.App.2d 326), here there was no reason to admit such evidence; it had no probative value as plaintiff was not claiming kidney damage as a result of this accident. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

Similarly, it was inadmissible for impeachment (Evid. Code, § 780), for plaintiff never actually denied having had prior kidney problems and was not seeking damages therefor as a result of the accident in suit Defense counsel’s line of questioning was improper. (See Part 4 of 5.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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