In-car recording devices can help to resolve liability for an accident more quickly and make a significant difference to ensuring victims get the help they need, explains Claire Howard

Nearly three million motorists are now using dashboard-mounted cameras, according
to roadside recovery and insurance giant RAC. But with the use of dashcams on the rise, is this the end of the he-said-she-said collision dispute?

With an in-car recording device, drivers can keep a
video record of what occurred, how it happened, and - most importantly - who was at fault.

Over the past few years there has also been a massive increase in the number of cyclists using GoPro-style helmet cameras
to film their commutes, with footage of dangerous driving often published on the internet.

We have seen a surge in clients coming to us with dashcam footage to support their claims. This has been especially helpful for those who have been seriously injured in road traffic collisions, for whom swift
access to justice often means access to rehabilitation and financial support while they
are recovering from serious
and sometimes life-changing injuries.

Denial of liability

When you or a loved one is lying in a hospital bed, the back and forth of a your-word-against-theirs argument can hamper timely access to costly rehabilitation and financial support while you recover sufficiently to return to work -
if indeed returning to work is
an option. While we're a way off dashcams bringing an end to that, the evidence they provide is certainly helping to reduce stubborn denials of liability
from drivers' insurers.

For serious injury lawyers, taking evidence from people who have often suffered traumatic injury and may have little or
no recollection of the event, dashcam footage has proved invaluable. We are currently dealing with a case involving
a cyclist who was thrown from
his bike after being struck by
a car. A vehicle following had a dashboard camera, and the footage is helping us to piece together exactly what happened.

Being able to resolve liability for an accident quickly can
make a significant difference to ensuring victims get the help they need following an accident and can get their life back on track without delay. While not always conclusive, mainly because footage from a dashcam tends only to be forward facing, it often helps prove that our clients are not at fault for the accident they've been involved in.

The rise of dashcams can also help insurers tackle 'cash for crash' scams, where an accident is caused deliberately in order
to claim for fictitious injuries. There have been well-publicised incidents where the video footage made all the difference before the courts. Commercial vehicles are usually specifically targeted in such scams, putting the safety of professional drivers at risk and leaving businesses out of pocket. If greater use of dashcams helps tackle the small minority of fraudulent cases then this has to be welcomed.

Viral videos

Anything that makes people think more about the standard
of their driving is surely a very positive step and this additional scrutiny on the roads can only serve to support better driving practices.

That being said, with us now living in an overwhelming social media culture, barely a week goes by without someone uploading a video of alleged driving incompetence.

Few will have missed the 'I'm Ronnie Pickering' video of an alleged road rage incident between a motorcyclist and
a feisty Citroen driver in September last year. The argument, filmed by the biker's helmet cam, is now a music mash-up available on YouTube.

But while it may have provided much amusement in the media, could dangerous driving videos that are turned viral by web popularity result in the denial
of fair trials? Could a defendant argue that the broadcast of a video would create a substantial risk of serious prejudice?

While having a dashcam is a personal choice, and should remain so, there is no guarantee that owning one offers total legal protection - for either party -
in the event of a crash. But as
a tool for fighting dangerous driving, creating easier access
to justice, and improving
driving standards, the argument for purchasing a dashcam
is becoming ever more convincing.

Claire Howard is a partner and head of the personal injury team at Irwin Mitchell’s Southampton office @irwinmitchell


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