Once considered the sole province of law enforcement and overseas drivers, dash cams have become popular with U.S. motorists. A dash cam's ability to capture footage with unflinching clarity has made these devices extraordinarily valuable in auto accident cases. Nevertheless, a dash cam is not always the smoking gun that many plaintiffs assume it to be. It's important to keep the following in mind whenever dealing with dash cam footage in your auto accident case.
The Footage You Get Might Not Be the Right Footage
Imagine thinking you have a slam-dunk case thanks to your dash cam, only to find out the footage captured shows nothing, or it doesn't show enough to prove anything. If your dash cam footage only shows a fraction of the accident or if the camera is aimed in the wrong direction, you may find it harder to use this footage in court to bolster your personal injury claims.
If you have only a certain type of footage, such as an interior shot of your vehicle, it may not be enough to prove or disprove any claims concerning the accident. It's important for your dash cam to be able to get the whole picture instead of a small amount of coverage. If necessary, you may need to use multiple dash cams fitted on strategic portions of your vehicle to keep all of your bases covered if an accident occurred.
There May Be Restrictions on Where and How You Can Use It
When you're out on public roads, you won't have to worry about getting permission to record video footage through your dash cam. On the other hand, there are situations where you won't be able to use your dash cam the way you'd like, if you're able to use it at all:
- Private property - If the private property owner doesn't allow video or still photography on the premises, then your dash cam footage may fall in the same boat.
- Military installations - Most military installations prohibit collecting unauthorized footage of roads and various structures. However, this depends on the base regulations, which could vary among installations.
- Other restricted areas - Areas with clear signage and written rules explicitly forbidding video and still photography may also make using dash cams a no-go.
Some Courts May Treat the Footage as Subjective
Keep in mind that there aren't any clear-cut laws regarding the usage of dash cam footage. As a result, the courts may look at such footage in a more subjective light. In some cases, an insurance adjuster may even convince the court to block the use of dash cam footage for variety of reasons. These reasons may include questions over the reliability of the footage, questions about whether the footage was altered or edited, and how long it may take to present evidence, just to name a few.
Your Dash Cam Footage May Backfire On You
There are times when you could accidentally shoot yourself in the foot, figuratively speaking, by introducing dash cam footage into the case. For instance, your dash cam footage could work against you if it shows you engaging in reckless actions or conduct prior to the accident. This could run the gamut from driving in excess of the speed limit to tailgating and making multiple unsafe lane changes.
Before introducing dash cam footage to your case, you should ask yourself if there's anything in the footage that could work against you. This simple question could save yourself from self-incrimination and the consequences that might follow.
Before you decide to use your dash cam footage, you should consult with your auto accident attorney and get his or her perspective on using dash cam footage as a way to support your case or disprove erroneous testimony.