The eye sees all, but the mind shows us what we want to see.

– William Shakespeare

The rise of technology forces insurance companies, like other companies,to adapt. Upon first thought, advances in technology should streamline claim handling and the litigation process insurance companies endure. From a 10,000-foot view, technology has already made it easier for claimants to file claims and for the insurance companies to investigate and respond. Nevertheless, technology, especially the use of cell phones, has also made life for motor carriers and insurance companies more difficult.

In 2014, the use of cell phones caused one out of every four motor vehicle accidents.1 Further, a 2018 study by Motus, found that cell phone ownership increased by 22% from 2013 to 2017.2 During that same time, the number of motor vehicle accidents increased 12.3%.3 The increase in motor vehicle accidents led to greater expenses for insurance companies. Unfortunately, the average costs of paid claims also grew. According to Trends in Auto Injury Claims, 2019 Edition, from 2008 through 2017 the average cost of paid claims grew for bodily injury and personal injury protection no-fault claims 34% and 24% respectively.4 These increases do not account for the litigation expenses insurance companies are often required to incur. For commercial insurance companies and commercial truck drivers, these numbers are even more disturbing. Claimants may receive settlements and jury verdicts even though the claimant was at fault. A 2013 American Trucking Association report found that 70% to 75% of passenger motor vehicles were at fault for fatal crashes involving a commercial truck.5 So are there any solutions to alleviate the costs associated with the growing number of claims? One solution, especially for commercial insurance carriers and truck drivers, may be the use of forward facing video camera systems.

A forward-facing video camera mounts on the truck’s dashboard with the lens facing forward, out of the truck, to replicate the driver’s perspective.6 Generally, the video camera system is continuous or event-based.7 Continuous video camera systems, as the name suggests, record while the commercial vehicle is running.8 Conversely, a hard-brake, impact, or other specified event activate event-based systems.9 Regardless of the system, each have the potential to capture and record invaluable information that is useful in the claim and litigation process. The video camera systems allow the trucking and insurance companies to have real-time footage of how the accident occurred. It accurately displays the commercial vehicles position prior to and after an accident. It also displays the position of other vehicles and individuals involved in an accident. Most importantly, it eliminates what would otherwise be relied upon bias statements from the claimant and/or insured. A forward-facing video camera system truly has the capability to see and replay “all” without inherent self-bias perspectives. Consequentially, these systems have the potential to reduce the overall time and costs spent on claims. Potential claim and litigation expenses saved include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The time insurance companies investigate whether to accept or deny a claim.
  • The need for insurance companies to conduct a recorded statement of the parties involved.
  • The time attorneys spend gathering information to file an Answer to a Complaint.
  • The time spent visiting the scene of the accident.
  • Having to hire an accident reconstruction expert or other expert.
  • Having to conduct lengthy written discovery.
  • Having to conduct depositions of the parties and/or witnesses.
  • Having to conduct mediation or arbitration.
  • Having to go to trial.

Besides these immediate savings, a forward facing video camera system also serves additional purposes:

  • It records how the claimant presented after the accident, e.g. whether the claimant exhibits any signs of injury.
  • The footage allows claimant attorneys to know the viability of the claimant’s claim.
  • Deters meritless claims.
  • Allows for prompt settlement.
  • Allows insurance companies to provide prompt feedback to insureds.

Photo of Attorney Williams Britt

Williams Britt
Charlotte, NC
704.319.5431
wbritt@hedrickgardner.com

1 Gabrielle Kratsas, Cellphone use causes more than 1 in 4 crashes, (March 28, 2014), https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/03/28/cellphone-use-1-in-4-car-crashes/7018505/.
2 Katie Leonowitz, Car Accidents Increase 12.3 Percent with the Rise of the Always-Connected Mobile Workforce, Finds New Motus Distracted Driving Report, (September 20, 2018), https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180920005122/en/Car-Accidents-Increase-12.3-Percent-Rise-Always-Connected.
3 Id.
4 David Corum, New Study Finds That Auto Injury Claim Severity Pushes Insurance Costs Higher, The Institutes, (February 18, 2019), https://insurance- research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/Trends%20News%20Release%2002192019.docx_.pdf.
5 Hilary Daninhirsch, Some Fleets Turn to Cameras to Help Mitigate Rising Insurance Costs, Transport Topics, (May 5, 2020), https://www.ttnews.com/articles/some-fleets-turn-cameras-help-mitigate-risinginsurance-costsutm_source=equipment&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=newsletter&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWWpOallUZ3pZakkzT1dNMiIsInQiOiJsRlRTV3I2MjRubmt5R1lVbHZhNm5hU1ltaDRSK3RUQXdaUDd6aWtZWjJQcEl3YXVcL1lhQmw0cG03RmVCTVdWVzdvRkk0aDlWKzI4XC9xeVdubFdCQ2FoQ1M2TlpQNVEyZE9CVzJqTlVJVW9LeFllVU5xSVEwQ0 5PYzJXMXJDUWgwIn0%3D.
6 Id.
7 New Trucking Tech: Forward-Facing Cameras https://supposeudrive.com/new-trucking-techforward-facing- cameras/
8 Id.
9 Id.

This publication is not intended to be all-encompassing and does not cover all situations and exceptions to general rules. To discuss the applicability or interpretation of any provision of the law to a specific situation, please contact an attorney at Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, LLP.