Dash cam footage has become more prevalent over the past few years when it comes to giving actual proof over what happened in any given incident. Police departments have utilized dash cams to document traffic stops for years. Recently, average citizens have installed these devices for their own use, as well.
However, can you utilize these cameras and the footage from them in disputing or proving fault in a personal injury case? We have asked a legal expert, attorney Alaina Sullivan, about what you should do. Here is what she had to say:
What Is a Dash Cam?
A dash cam is a device that you can install in your car, on the dashboard, for the purpose of recording everything that happens while you drive, similar to a GoPro. They can be a single or a double lens digital camera that is hooked to your window or dashboard, powered by being wired to your car.
When you start your vehicle, the camera records video to an SD card. It shows what you see as a driver. Some record sound, and depending on how nice the camera is, some record in night vision. All of these types of devices are perfectly legal.
Why They Help
When it comes to proving fault in a car accident, it is often your word against the other driver. Yes, you can get a police report to help you in proving you were not the reason the car accident happened, but even police reports go off of the statements made from those involved and those from witnesses.
Actual footage of the accident itself can be pretty convincing evidence, and the insurance company will want to see anything that could potentially exonerate you. It is for this reason that many people utilize dash cams in their vehicles.
When They Do Not Help
However, there are some situations where dash cam footage may not necessarily work in your favor. One situation involves when the footage captured does not show what actually happened. It may show that there was an impact, but it may not show the impact from the point of view where the impact actually occurred.
For instance, if you were rear-ended, and the footage showed the car from the front forward, your footage may not be helpful. If the dash cam shows you doing something reckless or driving negligently, the footage would actually work against you, and you may not want to use it.
If you were driving while distracted or ran a red light, disobeying a traffic signal, that footage would show that you were the driver who is at fault. In addition, if you are driving in a restricted area or private property, you may not be able to use the footage. At minimum, you may have a difficult time getting it admitted in court depending on the circumstances.
Another factor to keep in mind is footage can be submitted as proof, but nothing is ever hard and fast. In best situations, an insurance adjuster will use the footage as subjective evidence of fault. The recording will likely be used along with other evidence, including the police report and witness statements.
Further, you will need to show that the footage is 1) accurate; 2) reliable and 3) taken properly and not modified in any way. If you choose to try to get it admitted in court, you will need to meet all of the standards required for admitting evidence in court.
It is highly likely the other side will try to fight you on it, so it is always recommended you speak with a personal injury attorney.
If you do get it admitted in court or get the insurance agent to accept the footage, it can be quite helpful in proving your case, but do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Make sure you have additional evidence to help support your case. All of it combined should be able to show that you were not the driver at fault.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you have been involved in a car accident and have questions about the use of dash cam footage to prove fault, it is always recommended you contact an attorney today to discuss your case if you do not currently have a lawyer or have any questions.
A licensed personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine if you have a claim against the other party’s insurance company. To receive the compensation for your medical bills, property damages, and pain and suffering, you should speak with a personal injury attorney in your area today.