Using your Car’s Dash Cam Video to prove Liability

Posted by Stevenson Whelton MacDonald & Swan
November 23, 2018

Following a 2018 criminal trial  to decide the charge of ‘dangerous driving causing death’, the Court released dash cam video evidence that shows the defendant driving at high speed (three times the posted limit) before he crashed into the accident victim’s car.  The video was provided by a witness to the crash, and it was hoped that posting the video online would educate drivers on the potential tragic consequences of speeding.

Dash cam (dashboard camera) footage is increasingly being submitted as evidence in legal actions. This video evidence can be extremely helpful, not only in settling insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits, but also if your car is vandalized or stolen.  And, as road rage is becoming increasingly common, particularly in the GTA, a dash cam can be helpful in capturing an incident of road rage or dangerous driving.

Using your dash cam to record events on public roads and highways is legal under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).  In fact, Ontario police often actively solicit dash cam videos from drivers who were involved in, or may have been witnesses to, an accident to help them identify the circumstances that led to the accident.  You can also post dash cam videos online, for example to draw attention to a road rage incident, as long as the recording doesn’t include private conversations of people in, or around, your vehicle without their permission.  Also, be cautioned that if you are engaged in unsafe or illegal driving practices, the dash cam video may be proof of your actions as well. 

How dashcam video can help in the claims process

Two key components in a personal injury lawsuit are proof of negligence and proof of loss.  This means that a successful claim for damages must show that 1) the ‘at fault’ party’s negligence caused the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries; and 2) the plaintiff experienced real losses as a result of the accident, which may include both financial and non-economic losses. An example of a non-economic loss is the loss of enjoyment in life that often results from chronic pain or a loss of physical mobility.

In many personal injury cases, there is strong evidence to support negligence  since the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents in Ontario involve unsafe and negligent driving practices.  Among the primary causes of accidents are drunk driving, distracted driving (including texting while driving), and speeding.   When police at the scene of the accident charge the at fault driver with a traffic violation or criminal offence in connection with the accident, as often occurs, there is a strong case for negligence in an ensuing personal injury claim against the at fault driver. 

However, in cases where negligence is contested by the defendant driver, dash cam video evidence can be instrumental in proving negligence or  illegal driving actions.   For example, in a 2018 trial, Ivanciuc v. Wang et al, the Court referred to dash cam evidence in reaching a decision that the defendant driver had time to stop at an amber light and indeed, should have stopped, rather than striking a car that was waiting to turn left at an upcoming intersection.  Accordingly, the defendant was found 75 per cent liable for the accident.

More and more drivers in Toronto and the GTA report that they have installed dash cams in their vehicle. The decreasing cost of dash cams makes this technology increasingly affordable and attractive.  And, if dashcams become common technology for all cars, it is hoped that drivers will drive less aggressively and without distractions in the knowledge that their driving behaviour is likely being recorded.  

 

Disclaimer: Our blog is intended to inform our existing and prospective clients about topics pertinent to their lives. While our goal is to provide accurate and factual information, this in no way should be taken as legal advice or applied to specific cases. It is in your best interest to contact a licenced and practising lawyer for legal representation, as matters of the law are often complicated and cannot be fully assessed without knowing all of the details of a case.