Today we will examine whether installing a dash cam (dashboard camera) in your vehicle is a worthwhile endeavor. These days you cannot escape cameras. Everyone seems to have a smartphone, and no longer do cell phone cameras produce grainy, obscure images – these phone cameras are advanced, with clear, focused pictures and even excellent video capabilities. We already know that most businesses have digital cameras pointed at us. Some of us have had the luck of being captured on a “red light camera” as we push the yellow light a little too far. Many motorcyclists wear helmets with a portable digital camera, and now, more and more people are having dash cams installed in their vehicles.
Probably the most common answer is to prove that any auto accident is “not my fault”. Similarly, some people feel the footage may help fight an unfair traffic ticket. There are several video clips on YouTube that capture road rage incidents – although in some of those cases, the fact that the aggressor was being taped was less a deterrent than an agitating factor.
In Europe, insurance companies offer incentives to drivers who have dashboard cameras. It does not appear that this has yet been offered by any U.S. automobile insurance company.
We have had three recent cases in our office where the subject automobile accident was actually captured on video – one from a camera at a business, another by a security camera at our client’s residence, and one from a helmet-cam worn by a motorcyclist. The footage in each case was invaluable in showing us the intensity of the impact. And obviously, it was fairly definitive in terms of fault-finding.
All three of our recent video-captured cases settled before trial. Whether the footage would have been deemed admissible if the cases went to trial, however, is an unanswered question. Documents that are entered into evidence need to be authenticated, and that could present an obstacle in some cases. Having a jury actually watch the crash happen would be a phenomenal courtroom tool. Different states will have different rulings on the matter of admissibility of dash cams.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please give me a call for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 if you are outside of the Sacramento area.