Can a Dashboard Camera Get Me Off the Hook in an Accident?
You’re driving along when another motorist suddenly cuts in front of you to make an illegal U-turn. The only available option you have is to slam on the brakes – but, you hit him anyway – badly damaging both vehicles. Without a witness, it becomes your word against his. It’s at times like these you wish you had a video camera to record the other guy’s dumb move and prove you weren’t at fault.
Well, if you’re one of a growing number of motorists who have a “dashcam”, which is nothing more than a video camera that mounts on your vehicle’s dashboard or its windshield, you would have a visual record of what actually caused you to crash and proof that the accident couldn’t be avoided.
Getting into an accident that’s judged to be your fault can not only result in higher auto insurance rates, but also in potential post-accident legal headaches – unless you can show proof that the other driver was at-fault by recording the crash. While, in the U.S., we haven’t yet reached the point where we rely almost exclusively on dash cam video, a new trend could be coming.
In fact, the massive popularity of these devices in Russia has made their video evidence preferable to spoken testimony in traffic accident court cases. And, they could become an essential tool in proving fault or fraud here as well in the not too distant future. This is especially true if your car insurance company is staring at a costly lawsuit for an accident you didn’t cause.
Furthermore, should you be the victim of a hit-and-run, the video footage from your dash cam can prove the validity of your claim by showing another driver did hit your vehicle and left the scene. It could also help the police and your auto insurance carrier to locate the other driver and hold him or her accountable for the damage to your vehicle, if his license plate was recorded.
It should be pointed out that opinions vary on the usefulness of dash cam footage among car insurance companies. While dash cam video may not always be conclusive evidence of exactly what took place during an accident, it can still be extremely helpful. Whether your insurer equates the videos to be like photographs that prove nothing or they consider them to be a valuable asset in a court case depends entirely on the individual adjuster and his company’s official policy.
Nonetheless, should you have corroborating video evidence that lets you and your auto insurance company off the hook for any liability resulting from your crash or shows the other driver uninjured, an experienced car accident lawyer would be more than happy to evaluate and present the video at trial.
However, although having a video record of your accident could be beneficial to you, it could also be a double-edged sword and used against you, if you caused the accident. You could be forced to provide the video to law enforcement officials, should someone be seriously injured or killed or face charges for having destroyed evidence.
If you’re a safe driver, you probably don’t have to worry about having your dash cam turn the tables on you. The advantages of having a recorded account of a fender-bender or more serious accident will more than likely work in your favor and be money well-spent.