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Using GPS to Piece Together Bike, Car Accidents

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

Are GPS devices the answer to finding fault in bike and car accidents?

With an overwhelming number of cases providing no evidence other than participant statements, finding and analyzing GPS data in bike and car accidents appears to be the next big thing in personal injury law. 

With the devices recording speed and location--and in the case of cyclists, pedal rates and heart rates--investigators can piece together a sometimes significant amount of information.

But be careful--an analysis of GPS data can work both for and against a crash victim.

Consider the two competing examples.

In a story in the New York Times, a well-known bike racer was hit by a car, but was told that, without proof of where he had entered the intersection, there was no recourse against the driver.

The data stored in his cycle GPS system showed where he stopped at a stop sign, where he got hit, and where his bike came to a rest. He recovered from the driver's insurance.

Use of GPS data in accidents involving two cars could follow the same path, but with a different outcome.

Imagine that Car A sideswipes Car B in the middle of a four-way stop. One would think that Car B is the victim, but what if GPS data shows that Car A actually arrived at the intersection first, and had the right-of-way? And the only reason Car B was sideswiped is because Car A was moving slightly faster--not because the car entered the intersection illegally?

So while GPS data use is likely to increase in coming years, and it is a valid form of evidence, seeking out GPS data in accidents is not to be taken lightly. It can very well do your case more damage than good.

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