Modern vehicles are equipped with a wide range of advanced safety features that can help prevent serious car accidents. However, car accidents continue to happen due to a range of factors, including driver error, inclement weather, and poor road conditions.
When an accident occurs and no property damage or injuries are involved, is very important for the injured party to be able to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused the accident. Pictures from the accident scene, witness statements, and police reports can help prove which driver caused the accident. However, if one of the vehicles was equipped with a dashboard camera, this can provide actual footage of the events leading up to the accident, as well as during and immediately following the collision. If the dashcam captured one of the drivers engaging in negligent behavior at the time of the accident, this valuable evidence may be used to prove fault.
How Do Dashcams Work?
Dashcams are small recording devices that are mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard or windshield. They typically start recording as soon as the motorist turns the car on and will continue recording until the vehicle is turned off. Most dash cams record everything that happens in front of the vehicle. However, more advanced models can also record audio and video from inside the car, as well as provide rear-facing video, display on the rearview mirror, and stream to the Internet.
Dashcams are inexpensive, ranging from $60 for a basic model to $150 for a more high-end model, and easy to install. While dashcams are becoming more widely used by consumers for liability protection, they have been primarily used in the following industries for years:
- Law enforcement: Police cars are equipped with dash cams in order to record interactions between police officers and civilians. If the civilian is charged with a crime and the charges are being disputed, the dashcam footage can be used in a court of law to prove that a crime occurred.
- Truck drivers: Dashcams are used to ensure that truck drivers follow certain laws and regulations, including hours of services (HOS) regulations that prevent truck drivers from exceeding the number of hours they are allowed to be on duty before taking a break. If a truck driver is involved in an accident, the dashcam can provide valuable footage and help determine who is at fault.
- Taxi and rideshare drivers: Dashcams are often used in taxicabs and rideshare vehicles as a way to protect the driver as well as the passengers. The footage from the dashcam can provide the proof needed to settle the dispute.
What are the Advantages of Dashcams?
Dashcams are not as widely used in the United States as they are in other countries, and the reasons for this are not entirely clear. One reason may be the fact that the insurance industry has been slow to fully embrace dashcams. Overall, however, there are benefits to having dashcams. The following are some of the main benefits of dashcams:
- Captures actual footage of an accident. Dashcams provide clear footage of what happened right before, during, and immediately following a car accident. In addition to capturing another driver’s mistakes, it can provide information about the color, make, and model of the vehicle, as well as the license plate number. However, if the quality of the footage is grainy, the lighting is poor, or key images in the video are blocked or difficult to see, the footage may not provide the proof necessary to determine fault.
- Identifies hit-and-run drivers. When a motorist is hit by another car and the driver flees the scene, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to file a claim and collect compensation for any injuries or property damage. However, if the vehicle is equipped with a dashcam, it may capture the license plate number, as well as other important information that can help identify the driver who fled the scene. Identifying the hit-and-run driver is extremely important for the claims process. It also helps law enforcement track down the hit-and-run driver. Leaving the scene of an accident is a felony.
- Can help prevent insurance fraud. The claims process can be very confusing and overwhelming, particularly when an injured motorist is trying to recover from injuries. Insurance companies are notoriously difficult to deal with, especially if the other driver involved in the accident is disputing the claim. Dashcam footage can provide footage proving that the other driver was negligent. In addition, the footage can prevent insurance fraud by preventing people from trying to claim more than they deserve.
- Monitor truck driver behavior. Truck drivers and other businesses that use commercial vehicles often use dashcams to monitor their drivers to ensure that they are not engaging in any unsafe driving behaviors, like distracted driving, drowsy driving, or speeding. In addition, having a dashcam onboard will help prevent truck drivers from making unscheduled stops, exceeding the HOS regulations, or driving recklessly if they know that the dashcam will capture footage of that behavior.
- Expedites the settlement process. When a motorist is able to provide video footage from a dashcam, this is extremely valuable if the footage proves that the other motorist was negligent. Unless the other party is able to prove that the footage is misleading or inaccurate, they will likely agree to a settlement.
- Additional evidence from dashcam data. Some of the more high-end dashcams can collect a range of data, including the vehicle’s GPS data, and the speed and direction that the vehicle was travelling at the time of the accident. This provides additional information that can help establish fault and give the insurance company an accurate picture of the accident.
Are There any Disadvantages to Having a Dashcam?
If a motorist is injured in a car accident, the dashcam will record the events leading up to the collision. While that means that the other driver’s actions will be recorded, the dashcam will capture this footage as well. If the injured motorist decides to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, the damaging dashcam footage may have a negative impact on the settlement amount or prevent the injured driver from being able to seek any financial compensation.
Are Dashcams Legal in Virginia?
Motorists are legally allowed to install dashcams in their vehicles, provided they are mounted in a way that does not obstruct the motorist’s view of the road through the windshield, the front side windows, and the rear window. Some states have laws in place that prohibit motorists from recording others without their knowledge. In Virginia, however, motorists may use dashcams in areas where the public has access or where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. As dashcams become more widely used, it is possible that additional regulations will be placed on them.
Should I Install a Dashcam in My Vehicle?
Some motorists are interested in the technology for the driving support it provides, including the back-up or side-view cameras so the driver can see what is happening in the vehicle’s blinds spots. Others purchase dashcams in order to avoid liability in the event of a car accident that was caused by another motorist.
If a motorist is thinking about purchasing a dashcam, they should consider the benefits it will provide. Many new cars and trucks are equipped with dashcams and other types of recording devices, and this trend is likely to continue as more consumers are interested in the technology.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Clients Use Dashcam Evidence to Prove Their Case
If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, it is in your best interest to contact the Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC as soon as possible. If your vehicle was equipped with a dashcam, the footage may provide valuable information about who caused the accident. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.