Video footage is invaluable evidence
It’s an all too familiar situation. A cyclist gets hit by a car, dies, and so too does their side of the story. On Monday night, Louis Smith was riding north on the 100 block of North Homan when a female driver heading southbound in a Chrysler 200 struck and killed him. According to the police report, Smith supposedly “swerved into the vehicle.”
It’s unlikely we’ll know for sure, raising doubts as to the veracity of the report. Streetsblog notes that there are no traffic cameras near the crash site. The only version of what happened is that of the driver, who had not been cited as of 11:30am on Tuesday.
Based solely on the driver’s word, it’s impossible to determine whether Smith did in fact swerve into the car. But what’s certain is this: Smith isn’t around to say otherwise. Barring any new information from the Major Accidents Investigation Unit, which is looking closely at the crash, discrepancies in the report may never come to light.
Helmet cameras as safety prevention measures and legal ammunition
Had Smith been wearing a helmet with a camera attached, it’s fair to say that we’d know much more. Helmet cams are quickly becoming the accessary of the moment. They provide great vantage points for would be YouTube stars (a practice we don’t encourage when it’s done recklessly), but they’re also practical for their ability to shed light on collisions, giving cyclists ammunition should they find themselves in court. It’s happened more than once, and it’s been effective almost every time.
Several years ago, we represented a woman who was injured by a motorist while riding her bike. The conclusive and defining piece of evidence was surveillance footage captured by a nearby store, leading to a decisive settlement. During the course of litigation, it became virtually impossible for the opposing counsel to defend what was clearly negligent driving.
There are other, residual benefits of helmet cams that go far beyond the footage. Just as the glaring decals of police cruisers capture surrounding attention, cameras are known to prevent drivers from making poor decisions. Elsewhere, helmet cameras are leading to more prosecutions and fines, especially related to aggressive driving and road rage incidents. This article from CNN, for example, points to a situation in 2015 where a driver accused a nearby cyclist of provoking him into violent action. Thanks to a helmet camera, the cyclist was able to prove that the driver was lying.
Bottom line: the camera reveals all.