As we all know, over the last few years technological advances have transformed the way we live our lives. This is especially true in the automobile industry.
Cars which have been manufactured in recent years often boast lights and window wipers which automatically come on and off as required; rear and front sensors to aid with reversing and parking; side -of -vehicle sensors; automatic application of the brakes; air bags etc.
The list goes on and on.
The majority of these new technologies in vehicle manufacture have, of course, come about through the understandable wish to make the car as safe as possible so that, in the unfortunate event of there being a road traffic accident, the driver and the passengers are protected from injury to the fullest extent possible.
For all these safety advances, however, they are only able to mitigate the damage and any injuries suffered; they are not, perhaps with the exception of a fitted ‘ dead man’s brake ‘, able to prevent the accident occurring in the first place.
Road accidents are not caused by technology but by the actions of the car drivers and, as humans, car drivers are fallible and will make mistakes. We are years away from driverless cars – that’s if we will ever see such vehicles on the roads.
There are tens of thousands of road accidents every year in the United Kingdom.
According to the latest available figures from the Department of Transport there were 1,784 reported road deaths and 25,511 people seriously injured in 2018. Even more alarmingly, these figures are an INCREASE on the previous year’s figures.
One feature which in my opinion is generally lacking from cars being made even now is fitted dash cameras. This tends to be restricted to high-end models and, even then, the cameras are only fitted as an option not as standard.
I know of course that dash cameras for front and rear are available to buy separately but they are a faff to install and, unless you disconnect and hide them away whilst not driving, they are highly visible to would-be thieves.
As solicitors acting for victims of road accidents, this is unfortunate. After all, there could be little argument as to who was to blame for the cause of the accident if the accident itself has been recorded on camera.
We are often involved in arguments with the insurance company acting for the driver our client says was to blame.
We are left looking for other cameras which might have picked up the accident such as council cctv or security cameras on nearby houses or business but this approach is hit and miss, cameras are frequently not present at all, quite often the actual accident is missed and the quality and clarity of the footage often leaves a lot to be desired.
My personal hope is that vehicle manufacturers will start fitting cameras in cars as standard and I think this will happen in the next few years.
In the meantime, what is the best advice we can give to anyone involved in a road accident which was not their fault?
The following is a ( hopefully ) useful guide but it is general and non- exhaustive.
Just about everyone these days walks about with a camera/ video recorder in their pocket – these are standard on mobile phones so use it!
BEFORE, the cars are moved from the point of collision, take plenty of photos and a video if you wish showing the damage to both cars and showing the place where the collision took place. It is a great idea to show the background location too so there can be no argument as to ‘where’ the accident occurred.
Make a careful written note of how many occupants are in the other vehicle.
Was the other driving alone or did he/she have passengers, and, if so, how many?
Take photographs/ video as proof.
You would be amazed at the number of times an argument breaks out as to who/how many people were present in the car.
It is vital that you take full details of the other driver – you need to know his or her full name and address. Ask if it is their own car they are driving; if not, carefully write down the name and address of the vehicle owner. For example, it could be someone driving a friend’s car or it could be someone driving an employer’s vehicle.
Ask who they are insured with.
If they are evasive or appear intoxicated or become hostile, call the police.
Have a look around and see if there were any passers by who might have seen the accident and then speak with them and ask what they saw. Make a note of their name and address – they could very well turn out to be the crucial all-important independent witness.
Under no circumstances, admit liability if you did not cause the accident and do not feel pressured to admit to anything which is not true.
It goes without saying that being involved in a road accident is very stressful and unsettling.
Most people are going to be pumped with adrenalin and generally in a bit of a state so it is very difficult to keep a presence of mind and remember to do all the above things but, in saying that, it is very important that you do.
For example, failure to obtain the driver’s name means that the claim has to be brought against an organisation called the Motor Insurers’ Bureau ( MIB ) and dealing with the MIB is a time consuming and often unsatisfactory experience.
I would recommend that you print out this guide and keep it in your car. It could well turn out to be the best thing you did.
Of course, we at Din Solicitors wish everyone years of incident-free happy motoring but, if an accident occurs, please do not hesitate to call us and hopefully we can successfully claim compensation for your injuries, vehicle damage, loss of earning and financial losses.
Richard Whitaker LLB (Hons); Adv Diploma In Personal Injury Litigation
Senior Litigator with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.