If you have been injured because of a car accident, whether you are looking to pursue a personal injury claim or just seeking compensation for damages to your vehicle, it is critical to gather strong evidence in support of your claim.
A dash camera, or dash cam, is a tool that can provide powerful proof for your claim. A dash cam is a device you install in your car’s dashboard to record everything that happens while you drive and is comparable to a GoPro. Dash cam’s video quality and capabilities have only improved in recent years, and the cost of these devices has become much more reasonable.
As the person making the claim, you have the burden of proving the other party is at fault. Often, the person that hit you may recall events leading up to the accident differently than you or just may be unable to accept that he or she is responsible. If that is the case, there is no substitute for video evidence.
Furthermore, seeing is believing. Even if the other driver accepts responsibility, seeing the actual wreck happen provides a certain realness to it and substantiates your injury claims. With the jarring of the camera that usually corresponds with impact, the person evaluating the claim (whether that be an adjuster for the insurance company or a judge or jury if your case cannot be resolved) can better link your injury claims to the wreck.
Dash cam footage can supply proof needed to substantiate your claim. While many intersections and nearby businesses have security cameras, it is rare that footage (1) actually shows what happened and (2) can realistically be retrieved as footage on such security cameras is only stored a few days. Frequently, eyewitnesses do not stop and, if they do, often have differing recollections of what happened. Furthermore, a police officer who arrives at the scene can inspect damage to the vehicles and take statements but, if the officer did not see the wreck, is often not in a position to definitively determine who was at fault.
Consequently, dash cam footage is one of the most dependable resources in proving fault in an accident. I have litigated several cases in which my client’s dash cam footage was the differentiating factor that increased the value of the case. One case involved a head on collision coming around a curve in which the other driver tried to dispute that he came into our client’s lane. Fortunately, the client had a dash cam. It clearly showed that the other driver crossed the center line. The dash cam evidence was valuable in numerous ways. First, it saved the client from having to hire an accident reconstructionist to substantiate her side of the story. Second, it made the other driver look like a liar, making it more likely that a finder of fact would give all benefit of the doubt to our client. Third, it showed how scary it must have been for my client (an elderly woman) to be driving on the street and this car coming straight at her. Fourth, it showed the violence of the impact.
Having the dash cam took a case that would have likely taken a year or more to resolve to one that we settled for policy limits of $100,000.00 in a matter of months.
Additionally, dash cam footage may be helpful in capturing events after the wreck that could be in dispute such as how you or the other driver behaved following the wreck.
Traffic cameras are cameras usually mounted above a traffic signal or on a streetlight facing an intersection. Footage from traffic cameras can be helpful in proving your claim but not as helpful as a dash cam. First of all, not all intersections are equipped with traffic cameras and not all accidents occur at intersections that do have traffic cameras. Second, traffic cameras do not always capture every angle of the accident and, in some instances, may be obstructed by overgrown trees. Third, traffic cameras may not function reliably or operate continually. Finally, it is difficult to capture footage from the traffic cameras before the footage is overwritten automatically. Rarely does the investigating officer obtain this footage. In fact, in my almost twenty years of practice, I have never seen an investigating officer actually capture such footage from a traffic camera.
If you are in a wreck and have a dash cam, you also have a legal duty to preserve it since it is evidence. Therefore, it is critical that you download the footage of the wreck. In doing so, you should preserve a significant amount of footage before and after the wreck to make sure nothing that is potentially relevant to your case is lost or destroyed. How much should be preserved often varies depending on the unique circumstances of the wreck. You should seek the advice of a lawyer to make sure that you comply with your duty. Failing to preserve relevant evidence could greatly harm the chances of winning your case.
By the same token, if the other driver has dash cam footage, they have the same duty. In all disputed automobile wreck cases, we inquire about relevant dash cam footage of the other driver and efforts made to preserve the video. To the extent you can do so safely, it is in your interest to politely ask the other driver if the vehicle has a dash cam and if so, ask that it be preserved. If you suspect the other driver had a dash cam, make sure you let your lawyer know.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident and have questions about using your dash cam footage to prove fault or personal injury, contact a reputable and experienced attorney today. We encourage you to contact our office at The Baer Law Firm. Or call us at 404.THE.BAER (404.843.2237) for honest advice about your potential case.
Bryan Baer, principal and founding partner of The Baer Law Firm, has over 20 years of experience litigating catastrophic injury and medical malpractice cases. He has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for his clients, earning his membership in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Bryan has earned a Super Lawyer designation since 2016 as well as Georgia Trends Legal Elite. He has also received a Top 40 Under 40 designation from The National Trial Lawyers in 2014 and is one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.