Have you considered getting a dash cam for your car or truck? If not, you should know how having a dash cam can help your case in the event of an injury accident.
First, you should know what constitutes a dash cam. Also known as a dashboard-mounted camera, it’s a digital recording device that attaches to your dashboard or windshield via a suction cup and points at the road ahead. (A second dash cam also could be mounted to face the rear of your vehicle.)
Dash cams are powered via a connection to your vehicle’s battery, perhaps through a cigarette lighter. Costs vary, but many sell for around $60.
When you start your vehicle, the dash cam starts recording digital video of the view ahead on a continuous loop. Many hours can be recorded at one time, then gradually replaced as new footage is recorded. Some dash cams also record sound, and some have night vision.
If someone or something in the road ahead causes a collision which injures you, the dash cam likely will have a recording of it. This can show if the other driver was at fault. Keep in mind that if you were somehow at fault, the dash cam can show that, too.
If the other driver was at fault, you may be able to use dash cam footage to prevail in an injury claim against that driver’s insurance company.
Perhaps a vehicle swerved in front of you and caused a crash. Or perhaps a distracted pedestrian stepped off a curb and directly in front of your vehicle. Or maybe an animal ran in front of your car, causing you to swerve. Your dash cam could show all that.
Unfortunately, using dash cam footage as evidence in an insurance claim depends on the insurer. Not all companies will accept such footage. Some may accept it only if it’s extremely clear that the other driver was at fault. But if a dash cam shows conclusively that you were not at fault, it should help in making your claim — along with other evidence gathered at the scene.
Even with a dash cam recording, having eye witnesses can be more effective in making an injury claim. That’s why it’s vital after an accident to gather witnesses who support your claim and get their contact information.
Many insurance companies won’t offer you a discount on your policy for having a dash cam in your vehicle. After all, dash cams do nothing to prevent accidents. They only may come into play after an accident, when evidence is gathered.
However, a dash cam can indicate the severity of a collision, which can enhance your claim for injury losses. Also, in the event of a hit-and-run collision, a dash cam can confirm this and perhaps even identify the fleeing driver’s vehicle for police.
In some states, dash cams which record audio can be illegal, due to laws mandating “two-party consent” to record conversations. However, Texas is a “one-party consent” state, so that is not a problem here, as long as you are present.
An exception would be when you leave your car with a mechanic. Then, any audio recordings without you present could be illegal eavesdropping. So mute your dash cam audio before leaving it at a garage.
Texas law makes no specific mention of dash cams. But Texas law does prohibit obstruction of drivers’ views. Though small, a dash cam could obstruct your view if positioned improperly. Your can ensure that doesn’t happen by placing a dash cam in the corner of your dashboard on the passenger side.
Also keep in mind that your dash cam may distract you as a driver, since some come with mounted screens showing live views of the road ahead. Having any such screen within a driver’s view is illegal in Texas. So make sure it’s mounted where you can’t see it.
There’s one thing you can see right now: Dash cams can boost your case in an injury claim — but not always.
Have questions? Contact a car accident lawyer with Jim Adler & Associates, and let us help.