How can Having a Dash Cam Help Me after a Car Accident?July 6, 2021
After a car accident, there can be several different accounts of what happened and who was at fault. Each driver may have a limited understanding of what led to the accident. Some people exaggerate or hide the truth. Others may simply have a different perspective on what they are sure they saw.
The one thing that may help settle the dispute is video footage of the incident. In recent years, privately owned dash cams have increasingly been used to support or refute the recollections of those involved in car accidents. The question is, how can the use of a dash cam help, and how might it hurt, a claimant seeking damages after a car accident?
What is a Dash Cam?
A dash cam, or a dashboard camera, is a video camera mounted on a vehicle’s dashboard or windshield that is positioned to capture footage of the scene in front of the vehicle. Recording the happenings on the road ahead can provide valuable evidence in the event of an accident.
How is Dash Cam Footage Used as Evidence?
At first, dash cams were used in policing, trucking, and other public and private business’ employee surveillance initiatives. Some organizations can use the cameras to monitor their employee’s work performance or safe driving habits.
Cameras typically record date and time information in addition to visuals, and many also record vehicle data such as driving speed.
As the technology has improved and become less expensive, the public has started using dash cams. Now it is not uncommon for private individuals to go into an auto shop or technology store and purchase a dashboard camera to use in their own vehicles.
The act of collecting footage of every mile traveled may seem to some like overkill, but if an accident occurs, a video of the accident can become indispensable for a driver who can produce it as proof of the other driver’s fault in the accident.
How Do I Set Up a Dash Cam on a Vehicle?
Depending on the model chosen, dash cams can cost anywhere from about $50 to $400 or more. Some uses may call for a more elaborate version, but a simple model will suffice for most drivers. Installing and using a standard dash cam can be surprisingly easy.
Some dash cams simply attach to the windshield with a suction cup and plug into the car’s power outlet. Other types may be installed using a stand attached to the dashboard or hardwired into the car’s electrical system. Some models are user-friendly to hook up, and others require installation by a professional.
Some newer vehicles even come with a dash cam already installed.
What Accident-Related Information can be Captured by a Dash Cam?
The camera may be able to show what happened just before the accident, including the speed and driving behaviors of the car with the camera, as well as the maneuvers of the other car.
If the other driver left the scene of the accident, the video may offer information on the make, model, color, and license plate of the other vehicle.
If the other driver does stop, the dash cam may capture their behavior, including any admission of guilt, if the camera is set up to record audio input, and any evidence that they were intoxicated or otherwise unfit to be behind the wheel.
Are Dash Cams Worth the Investment of Time and Money?
The investment of time and money can be unambiguously worth the cost if having footage of a serious accident results in indisputably clear proof that someone else was responsible. With video evidence of what happened, a claimant holds some of the most valuable evidence in the case. With such evidence, a driver who suffers injuries in the accident can more easily make the case that they should be awarded damages to pay for any significant losses they suffered as a result.
How Do Insurance Companies View the Use of Dash Cams?
It may seem obvious that the insurance companies would prefer to have the most definitive evidence available to show that their customer was not to blame in the accident, but what happens when the evidence is unclear or may be used to prove that the opposite is true?
Because the existence of dash cam footage can be used to either party’s advantage, many insurance companies tend to shy away from having an official policy about whether to include dash cam footage as part of the claims process.
In What Other Areas, Besides Car Accidents, can a Dash Cam be Useful?
Besides recording information that can be useful in accident claims, dash cams can be used to dispute traffic violations, to monitor safe driving habits for teens and employees, and to catch criminals looking to steal from or vandalize a car. Dash cams can also be used to support insurance claims for stolen items or damage from vandals.
The evidence recorded may also catch someone attempting to profit from a staged accident in which another driver deliberately causes a crash and blames the innocent driver in order to collect the insurance claim. When this evidence is caught on camera, it can reveal the truth and prove the other driver’s fraudulent intentions.
Why are Insurance Companies Not Advocating for Wider Use of Dash Cams?
As mentioned, even though insurance companies seem to have a lot to benefit from the use of dash cams, there are also drawbacks. Many insurance companies have no official policy regarding the review of dash cam footage. Some say this is by design. If, for example, the dash cam footage shows that their customer may have been at fault in the accident, the insurance company would not want to bring that information to light.
How can Video Evidence Convince the Other Driver to Make a Settlement Offer?
If the other driver, their insurance company, and their law team are aware that video evidence exists that shows that the fault for the accident lies on their side, it may prompt them to make a settlement offer in an effort to avoid a long drawn-out and costly trial. Knowing how video evidence can strengthen or prove a case, a lawyer may decide to advise their client against attempting to take their chances in court.
How can Video Footage Work Against the Claimant?
If the video footage shows that the claimant was negligent in any way that contributed to the accident, it may hurt their case. Even if the video proved the other driver’s negligence, the other driver’s lawyers may use it to prove something that makes their own case stronger.
In states such as Maryland, laws regarding contributory negligence may work to bar either side from collecting any damages from the other side. This legal theory holds that a claimant may not collect any accident damages if they are found to bear any fault whatsoever in the accident.
When Might a Dash Cam Video Not be Admissible in a Car Accident Case?
A judge may not allow grainy or unclear footage from a dash cam to be entered into evidence and shown to a jury. It may become necessary to show the judge how the video evidence supports the case that the other driver was at fault; otherwise, the judge may decide there is no reason for the jury to see it.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Assist Injured Victims Recover after a Serious Accident
If you were hurt in a car accident in Maryland, reach out to the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will help you collect compensation for the damages you suffered as a result of the incident, including medical bills, lost income, and other monetary losses. In some cases, you may be able to sue for non-monetary damages such as pain and suffering. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.