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Video Recordings from dashcams, i.e. small cameras that are mounted on the dashboard or on the windshield of a car and constantly record what is happening in front of the car, can serve as evidence in civil proceedings. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has now decided on this (file number: VI ZR 233/17).
Among other things, the BGH had to weigh up whether the admission of the video recordings as evidence would conflict with any personal rights of others. To this end, the judges state that the dashcam only records traffic events that are also perceptible to all other road users on site. In addition, the legislature has assigned particular importance to the interests of the injured party in the context of the regulation for unauthorized removal from the scene of an accident (Section 142 of the Criminal Code) for the accident liability process. A person involved in the accident must make it possible to identify himself and his vehicle. According to § 34 StVO, the name and address must be given on request, a driver's license and vehicle license must also be shown and information on liability insurance must be provided.
Affected personal rights would have to be clarified in separate proceedings - the balancing with such interests would lead in civil proceedings did not result in a ban on the exploitation of video recordings. In addition, there is an urgent need for evidence in the case of traffic accidents, which cannot be covered by subsequent accident-analysis reports. According to the BGH, the admissibility applies above all if the dashcam recordings are overwritten at short intervals and only saved permanently after a crash or a long delay.
The process in which the BGH now issued its dashcam judgment, dealt with two drivers who collided in Magdeburg on two adjacent lanes when turning left. The plaintiff had recorded a video with a dashcam. The use of the video as evidence had been denied to him in the lower court.
The Insurance companies expressly welcome the BGH's Dashcam ruling. According to Tibor Pataki, head of the motor insurance department at the German Insurance Association (GDV), insurance companies will probably also use dashcam recordings to clarify the circumstances of accidents. For example, drivers could be rewarded for using a dashcam by keeping their no-claims bonus after an accident if the video shows that they were not responsible for the accident. Dashcam videos also open up new possibilities in the fight against insurance fraud. For example, whether a driver suddenly brakes intentionally in order to cause an accidentcan be proven by means of dashcam recordings, says Tibor.
The automobile clubs ADAC and AvD also welcome the decision of the BGH. The AvD points out, however, that every driver must remain “master of his data”. In this respect, there must be no obligation to hand over video recordings to the police or the court that incriminate the driver himself. Should the police seize such a video, the AvD expects the court to prohibit its use.
The ACV (Automobil-Club Verkehr) also welcomes the judgment. The club assumes that with the help of dashcam recordings, pushers and other 'traffic hooligans' can be put in their place. In this context, the ACV would like a standardized recording mode that only allows the data to be read out by a court order.
Since dashcam recordings can violate the rights of other parties involved in an accident (right to informational self-determination and thus the right to one's own picture), the question arises whether such legal violations can be technically minimized. The BGH gave clear information on this in its judgment: The dashcam recordings should be overwritten at short intervals and only saved permanently after a crash or a long delay. Cameras with these capabilities are currently recommended by some lawyers - after all, the BGH does not advocate a general recording of traffic events. Even if the violation of personal rights can be punished with high penalties, these lawyers currently assume that the risk of being prosecuted for such a violation is usually quite low. Thus, due to the evidential value of videos, the installation of a dashcam equipped with the functions described above would be worthwhile. How the demarcation between video evidence and personal rights inThe future will only show the legal practice of the next few years.
Dashcams are not yet widespread in Germany, which was certainly also due to the previously uncertain legal situation. However, some of the small cameras are already available ex works. One of the first providers in Europe was McLaren: For the Carbon version of the 675 LT Spider there was a camera from the end of 2016 that was intended to record racing laps. At the beginning of 2017, the Citroën C3 with dashcam subject to charge . China was even earlier: With the Roewe RX5 has been selling the world's first smart car to SAIC-Motor (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) since mid-2016 . The car, equipped with an operating system from Alibaba, naturally also has a dashcam behind its windshield. Retrofit dash cams are now available in a vast variety. In the table below we have summarized the currently best-selling dashcams.