- Showing distraction. Technology has made it easier to prove that a driver was distracted at the time of an accident. If the accident was caused by the driver’s car veering across lanes, the fact that the lane-keep assist system was beeping could be used to show that the driver wasn’t paying attention. Likewise if the driver backed into someone or something while the backup camera was active, the extra information available on the camera monitor may serve as a useful fact for the plaintiff. Although the data probably doesn’t tell the whole picture, it can become a vital clue as to the state of mind of the driver in the moments before the accident.
- Establishing facts. Many safety features rely upon a car’s “vision,” as provided by cameras and other sensory equipment. The data from sensors themselves can become valuable information in a dispute. For example, it may show where one vehicle was in relation to another at the time of a crash. A collision prevention system’s activation may indicate that the driver was following too closely or didn’t brake in time. Oftentimes the facts shown by a system’s technical records are more reliable than the scattered recollections of individuals involved in a crash. Sometimes the technical data can show that one of the people involved in a crash isn’t telling the truth.
- Resting culpability on the manufacturer. It’s conceivable that a safety system may not work as intended. A driver who has come to rely on a car’s side and rear obstruction detectors might cause an accident if the detectors aren’t working properly. There could be many reasons for a malfunction: improper maintenance, ordinary wear and tear, or a fundamental flaw in the system’s design or construction. Where the responsibility for the system’s failure rests with the manufacturer, it may be drawn into a case on a products liability theory.
Auto safety features have become increasingly more sophisticated over the last decade. Modern cars are often equipped with advanced equipment like rear-facing cameras, front and side obstacle detection, blind spot warnings, and lane-keep assist. These features, many of which come as a side benefit of the race toward self-driving cars, greatly enhance a vehicle’s safety. Despite their obvious advantages, modern safety features aren’t able to stop every kind of accident. In fact, their role in an accident could become a part of a personal injury dispute. An overarching reason that this is true is that modern cars record enormous quantities of information about their systems, including the state of safety features. Here are a few ways these systems might factor into a case: