13 April 2015
Can Helmet Camera Footage be used as Evidence in Court?
Helmet cameras are being used more and more by people who cycle to work each day. Footage of accidents captured by these cameras is increasingly being used as evidence in both the criminal and civil courts.
In criminal trials the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) must prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt.
The CPS can be reluctant to prosecute motorists for careless or dangerous driving and the high burden of proof required in criminal proceedings partly explains why this is the case.
The CTC’s Road Justice Campaign supported by Slater and Gordon Lawyers highlights this problem and aims to improve the way that bad driving is handled by the criminal justice system.
The burden of proof is lower in the Civil Courts where cases need to be proven on a balance of probabilities. Despite this lower burden of proof, people injured in cycling accidents still have to bear the burden of proving their case. This is different to many other European jurisdictions who have in place either a system of presumed liability or strict liability.
Evidence of Cycling Accidents
It can be tricky to obtain witness evidence for either criminal or civil proceedings.
People are often reluctant to come forward and give evidence of what they saw. There’s often a perception amongst witnesses that they will have to give up a lot of their time to appear in Court.
This can prove difficult for people injured in cycling accidents. If they were knocked unconscious in the collision for example, they might not be able to give evidence about what actually happened.
Cycling helmet camera footage can therefore help a great deal by plugging any evidential gaps which might exist.
The quality of the film taken will determine whether or not footage from the camera will be of any assistance to the injured cyclist in Court. If a cyclist is hit by a car crossing his or her path then the footage could prove very helpful. If however the cyclist was hit from behind then the helmet camera footage may not have much evidential value.
Are Accurate Date and Time Settings Needed?
Sometimes when batteries run flat during use, cyclists can forget to set the correct date and time when a new battery is installed.
Could footage from these cameras still be used as evidence if they show a different date and time to when the accident actually took place?
The fact that the time and date setting was inaccurate does not in itself mean that the helmet camera footage is inadmissible. Any date and time inaccuracies just need to be explained in evidence should the other party dispute exactly when the accident took place.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have pursued several cycling accident claims in the civil courts for CTC members where helmet camera footage was used in evidence. Insurance companies have often admitted liability when the footage was disclosed to them whereas previously they might have maintained a denial of liability.
Paul Kitson is a keen cyclist and Slater and Gordon’s Principal Lawyer for the CTC, the UK’s national cycling charity.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide you with free legal advice on cycling accident claims in an online guide that you can download and print.
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