A driver involved in a serious Road Traffic Collision through no fault of their own needs to ensure that they have access to a full armoury of tools if they are to succeed in a defence to a potentially high value compensation claim, or to bring a claim if they have suffered injury.
In the more straightforward cases there will be independent witnesses to verify that the driver was driving responsibly. However, in cases where there are conflicting or unreliable accounts of the accident, or where there were no independent witnesses at all, new technologies can help to assess the merits of the claim and build a clearer picture of the accident. Some examples are set out below.
The police will often capture CCTV evidence to help with a prosecution. They are looking for evidence of breaches in the criminal law, but the CCTV could also contain vital evidence to support a driver's defence. As well as making a disclosure request to the police, a visit to the locality of the accident is often a worthwhile exercise to identify and capture all possible sources of CCTV recording.
There is no industry standard and there are many manufacturers of CCTV equipment. Data cannot be transferred easily from one machine to another and some multiplex systems show footage from many cameras onto one screen. Forensic Technology can be used to view CCTV in a small timeframe or in photo format which can be captured in a way that provides robust admissible evidence at court.
Police frequently use the data from mobiles to secure a conviction, and data from phones can also be used to prove or disprove allegations of negligence.
Technology can be used to access the mobile's memory, often even where it has been deleted by the user, including Text / SMS messages (both sent and received), dialled numbers, incoming/outgoing voice calls, images and video files sent, received and taken on camera-equipped phones, contact names and phone numbers held in the directory.
Commercial vehicles such as trucks, lorries, coaches and buses are lawfully obliged to monitor their driver’s hours and journey data by use of tachograph data.
This data holds a variety of forensic information that can be vital to any case where a driver is facing allegations of speed. The data will show the driver’s driving hours and also journey data such as speed and distance. The assessment of simple tachograph data can be presented to a judge at court, or for more complex cases expert reports can be prepared.
Road Accident "Locus" Reports
A carefully prepared "map" or sketch plan of the accident can assist the Court in establishing what was the most likely chain of events in a serious accident. Often witness evidence can be challenged by looking at the actual situation on the ground including precise measurements, skid marks etc. Computer programs enable highly accurate and responsive 2D and 3D scale plans to be prepared for Court.
New technology has been hailed by the insurance industry as a means of preventing accidents but, equally, if a driver is unfortunate enough to be in involved in a serious RTA, technology may well be able to provide vital evidence to support their defence or their claim.