How will dash cams change the personal injury landscape?

The obvious answer is that in liability disputes dash cams will provide very strong evidence towards who is at fault for a motor vehicle accident. This can be extremely valuable to a plaintiff who is injured by a defendant that is not telling the truth. It can also be valuable to a defendant who is the victim of a fraudulent lawsuit. Dash cams not only provide evidence towards which vehicle hit which, but they can also provide evidence towards driving conditions and the size of an impact.

That being said, dash cameras have serious limitations. Firstly they generally point in one direction. They also suffer from issues related to quality of picture. In a recent Supreme Court of British Columbia case a nearby car was recording. The evidence was used to establish road conditions. However, the video was ruled to have been filmed too far away to be of any use in establishing who was actually at fault for the accident:

A fourth individual, following the defendant’s car at some distance, was taking a video that captured the collision. This video confirms that the driving conditions were quite acceptable. The road was dry, there was little traffic, and the visibility was good. The video also confirmed that the headlights of the plaintiff’s car were on. Unfortunately, the video was taken at such a distance that it cannot be seen where each car was in the seconds immediately before the collision.

What are the downsides of using a dash cam? Well if you are at fault for a car accident, you have a duty to produce the video as evidence. It does not matter that your evidence hurts your case, you have a duty to produce it and deliver it to the other side.  Another disadvantage…if you live in Vancouver you are baiting someone to break into your vehicle. Anyone who;s lived in Vancouver long enough unfortunately knows all about this.

dash cam

What are the consequences of lying to ICBC?

Lying to ICBC either before or after a car accident can be disastrous. It gives ICBC reason to void your insurance. The law allows them to do so if an insured commits fraud or makes a “willfully false statement with respect to a claim”. If you get into an accident and your insurance has been voided, you may be on the hook for the financial consequences of an accident. You could also be held accountable for court costs and extra punitive damages. This is exactly what happened to a couple who had a friend tell the courts that he was an independent witness:

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This couple was on the hook for over $200,000 after everything was said and done. However, in the case of a catastrophic injury things could be much worse. Also be aware that ICBC will be vigilant if they suspect fraud. They are known to hire personal investigators, scour the internet, and phone your friends and foes in an effort to uncover the truth.

Smaller lies can also result in ICBC failing to cover you. A common lie concerns the primary driver. In many situations it is cheaper to insure a more experienced driver as the primary driver, and an insured may provide false information about who is actually driving the car regularly. If ICBC uncovers the truth, it can result in a lack of coverage by ICBC.

All of this leads to one conclusion. If you are unsure of what to say to ICBC, consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer first.

Can I be found at fault for a motor vehicle accident even if I am driving below the speed limit?

Although violating a speed limit is likely to get you a large ticket (and potentially other penalties), compliance with speed limits alone will not dictate who is at fault for an accident. It seems intuitive that relying on the posted speed limit to dictate how fast you travel should be a valid defence, but this is not always the case.

Ultimately what it comes down to is whether there was negligence. The courts will decide if the drivers involved have driven “with the skill and care expected of a reasonable driver at the time and place in issue”:

What this means is, even if you are complying with the posted speed limit, you can still be found to have caused an accident by driving too fast if there are other conditions that require you to slow below the speed limit. An easy example of a condition that might cause the reasonable driver to slow down is weather. Wet, cold, snowy, and icy conditions can all cause roads to be less safe. The reasonable driver should react to this by slowing down.

Other examples of conditions that might make the courts decide that a driver should have slowed below the posted speed limit include lighting conditions, hills, and road obstructions. For example, the courts have held drivers who were traveling at the speed limits liable, because they did not slow down for another accident up ahead. In certain circumstances drivers should be aware that there are likely to be pedestrians who have exited their cars and adjust their speed accordingly.

This just shows that even seemingly straight forward applications of what appears to be the law can lead to complex legal argument and fact investigation. As always, I recommend that anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident consult with a lawyer as quickly as possible.
Speed Limit