Caught on camera

Caught on camera

The battery on the camera I use when I’m commuting sometimes runs flat. When it does so, the time and date are lost and need to be reset manually. I seldom bother, so the camera’s date and time is usually wrong. If I were to use this footage as evidence, would this fact make the evidence void?

Nick Hudd

 

Helmet camera footage is increasingly used as evidence in both the criminal and civil courts. In the criminal courts, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) must prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt. This is a high burden of proof, and in part explains why the CPS is often reluctant to prosecute motorists for careless or dangerous driving. This problem has been highlighted in Cycling UK’s Road Justice campaign, supported by Slater & Gordon Lawyers.

In the civil courts, there is a lower burden of proof: on the balance of probabilities. But an injured cyclist, like all other road users pursuing a civil claim, is responsible for proving his or her case. This differs from most other European jurisdictions, which have either presumed or strict liability systems in place.

Obtaining evidence for the criminal and civil courts is often problematic. Even if the incident was witnessed, people are often reluctant to come forward. There is a perception that they would have to give up much of their time to appear in court. In the case of a severely injured cyclist, this can present significant difficulties because the cyclist may not be in a position to give evidence about what happened – for example, if they were knocked unconscious in the collision.

Helmet camera footage can therefore greatly assist by plugging any evidential gaps. Whether or not the footage is of any assistance depends on the quality of the film. If a cyclist is struck by a motor vehicle crossing his path, then the footage can be very helpful. However, if a cyclist is hit from behind then the footage may not have much evidential value.

If the date and time setting was inaccurate, this would have to be explained in evidence should this be disputed by the other party. The fact that the time and date setting was inaccurate does not in itself render the film as inadmissible in evidence.

In several civil claims we have pursued for Cycling UK members, we have disclosed helmet camera footage to insurance companies, and the footage has resulted in admissions of liability where previously they might have maintained a denial.

Paul Kitson

 

This was first published in the February / March 2015 edition of Cycling UK's Cycle magazine.

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