When a person is driving on the road, they know they must obey traffic laws and signs, check blind spots, brake in time to avoid collisions, keep a safe distance from other cars, and minimize distractions while driving.
However, despite a person’s best intentions and efforts, not every driver is as cautious; car accidents happen unexpectedly and suddenly. Whether it’s a motorcycle racing down the street, someone backing up into a person’s car, or a multi-car pileup, a dashboard camera can help support a person’s claim that they are not at fault if an accident happens.
The immediate response in the event of a car accident is for a person to call the police. The police arrive on the scene and interview the person and the at-fault driver. The officer writes a report and states that the at-fault driver caused the accident in some way. A person can then hire a personal injury attorney. Sometimes the at-fault driver concedes fault, and before a trial even becomes necessary, the person is awarded everything asked for in damages.
However, the at-fault driver may well be represented by a car insurance company that is highly motivated not to pay the claim so easily. Its goal is to minimize the amount of money the driver who is not at fault receives for their injuries and damage to their car. This includes arguing that the person was at-fault or that the accident was caused by factors other than the at-fault driver’s negligence, such as poor weather or road conditions.
How Can I Use a Dashboard Camera to Prove Fault in an Accident?
Innovations in technology have made hand-held cameras affordable and accessible to more people. People now have video recording capabilities on their phones, laptops, and tablets. The GoPro camera, a heavy-duty yet small video camera that can be worn, is available to everyone. Many city bikers have begun installing GoPro cameras on their helmets to film their daily commute in order to hold dangerous drivers responsible for accidents.
Now technology companies are expanding the options from wearable and other portable cameras to cameras that can be placed on a car dashboard. These are often referred to as “dash cams” or “dash cameras.” Police officers have long had access to dash cameras; they use them to record high-speed pursuits, arrests, and encounters. However, recently, companies have begun incorporating dash cams into civilian vehicles. The video footage from these dash cams can be admitted into evidence in a trial with proper authentication.
Dash cam videos may be very helpful in proving fault in a contested car accident case. When a defendant, the party in a lawsuit who is alleged to be at fault, claims that the plaintiff, the party who did not cause the accident, is partially or wholly responsible, the plaintiff can admit the dash cam video into evidence. In addition, the dash cam footage can be powerful during pretrial negotiations.
However, it would be a mistake to assume that a dash cam alone can prove fault in every case. A dash cam has a limited range of view and an accident could happen outside of its range. While a dash cam may be helpful in some cases or even conclusive, in many cases it might not provide the answer to the question of who is at fault in causing the accident. For example, it might not function properly when an accident occurs.
A person involved in an accident should not overlook other items that can serve as useful evidence in a car accident case. Some other items of evidence to look for and preserve are:
- Photographs of the crash scene and of victims;
- Physical evidence at the crash site, such as skid marks, broken car parts, paint, and other debris;
- Witness testimony, including the testimony of the drivers and passengers, if any;
- Police reports of the accident investigation. It is important to call the police to the scene of a car accident so that the police can make a report; the report is important in showing who is at fault.
While a person may be disoriented after a car accident, they should try to collect certain elements of evidence if possible. For example, a person should call the police in order to make sure that a police report is prepared. They should collect all contact and insurance information from other drivers. They should collect contact information from any witnesses. They should photograph the scene as well. They should not assume that because they have a dash cam, they do not need to do anything more.
Also, the person with a dash cam that recorded an accident wants to take steps to make sure the video is preserved and remains available until the case has been completely resolved. It is important to protect and preserve the dash cam footage.
It is also important to remember that proving who is at fault in causing the accident is not the only issue for which a person needs evidence in an auto accident case. There needs to be evidence that shows the extent of damage to property, cars and other items of property that might have been damaged.
There should be evidence to prove the nature and extent of injuries suffered by the drivers and any passengers. This generally includes records of medical treatment, but if a person suffers a permanent injury of some kind, it might include videos that show how the person’s quality of life has been altered by their injury.
There would need to be evidence that shows that a person lost wages, salary or other benefits of employment if they were unable to work for a period of time. If a person is projected to be unable to work in the future, then an expert witness may have to be involved in order to assign a value to lost future employment or employment opportunity.
A dash cam might show that an accident happened in a certain way, but alternate explanations, e.g. that a defect in the design or manufacture of one or more of the cars involved was responsible for a chain of events that ended with a collision. A lot depends on the nature of the accident. A person’s case might be relatively simple and dash cam might reveal exactly what happened. However, it is also possible that an accident could be much more complex. While dash cam footage might be helpful, it might not be the whole story or the only piece of evidence that a person needs.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident Claim?
You may think that your dash cam footage offers definitive proof that the other driver was at fault and caused the crash you were in, but you may well still need the advice of an experienced car accident lawyer who knows how to effectively use this evidence in a settlement or at trial.
And, of course, a particular accident might be more complicated and not easily resolved by a dash cam video. Unless an accident is straightforward with respect to causation and limited in the damage it causes, a person should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit.
It is also important to remember that the scope and type of evidence needed might go far beyond dash cam footage. However, having a dash cam in your car might prove very important at some point in time.