A recent court case in the UK has highlighted the increasingly valuable role that technology, in particular vehicle telematics, can play when assessing road traffic personal injury claims.
When applied to cars and other road vehicles, Telematics – often referred to as ‘black box’ technology – is a method of remotely monitoring a vehicle. The technology typically combines GPS tracking technology with other on-board diagnostics systems. This allows for the recording and mapping of exactly where a vehicle is and how fast it is travelling, and this data can be cross-referenced that with how a vehicle is behaving internally such as engine revs or application of brakes.
The case in question, Mitrasinovic v Stroud, 2020, concerned a road accident between a motorcyclist (the claimant) and a driver of a car (the defendant) in which the motorcyclist suffered significant and life-changing injuries following a collision with the car. When providing evidence, the claimant's legal team suggested that GPS data taken from a ‘black box’ fitted to the defendant’s car showed that the defendant was driving on the wrong side of the road and on the apex of a bend at the time of the collision.
The defendant’s car was fitted with a black box device from Redtail Telematics, which via its internal GPS, gyro sensors and accelerometer was able to track the position, trajectory and speed of the vehicle. This data was captured and recorded on the Redtail Telematics’ online portal and was available for study and detailed scrutiny both immediately after the event and – crucially as witness memories had a few years to fade – for a long time afterwards.
The defendant's legal team called upon the CEO of Redtail Telematics, Dr Colin Smithers, to provide expert insight into the validity of the black box data being presented. Dr Smithers was required to offer a robust view of the data’s validity for showing vehicle positioning through a bend as recorded by GPS and the onboard accelerometer. His (unchallenged) report showed that the telematics evidence consisting of GPS and accelerometer data could not provide the accuracy required to support the claimant’s claim of the accident location. After lengthy cross-examination involving the Accident Reconstruction Experts (ARE), this was judged to be correct. The accelerometer data showed the car’s detailed movements immediately prior to the impact and its location was determined by other means such as marks on the road and as estimated by accident reconstruction experts and the police collision investigator. Of crucial importance was the detailed analysis of accelerometer readings that were used to mitigate against the known and unavoidable limitations of GPS accuracy. This analysis and eventual judge’s decision proved vital in confirming the innocence of the young car driver. In commenting on the case, Dr Smithers said:
“In conclusion, and without detracting from the potentially tragic circumstances of any accident, it is important to note the fundamental contribution to accuracy and veracity of events afforded by expertly analysed telematics data. The degree of absolute detail supported by robust science is of real value in the areas of claims, liability and fraud for any insurer or underwriter, and not least for the lives and livelihoods of policyholders and drivers. The enormous power of telematics to assist the limitations of human memory under duress and after the passage of time is not to be underestimated. I was shocked by the differences in the various witness accounts”.
Road Accident Injury Claims Advice from Bakers Solicitors
At Bakers, we pride ourselves on our experience in representing claimants who have been injured following a road traffic accident that was not their fault and helping them to receive compensation that they are properly entitled to. Our professional, friendly personal injury team will give you an honest, free and plain English’ appraisal of your claim and we love delighting our clients when they receive the injury compensation they deserve.