In today’s world of smart gadgets and vehicles with helpful back-up cam technology, additional features like dash cams are becoming more and more common. Once primarily used by law enforcement, truck drivers, and certain hobbyists, dash cams have now become more affordable and accessible to the average driver than ever before.
While you might think at first that having a camera recording everything while you drive is unnecessary (or perhaps uncomfortable), the benefits of having this kind of live, first-person video footage may surprise you.
What Are Dash Cams?
The term “dash cam” is shorthand for “dashboard camera,” which is precisely what this device is. Dash cams are small video cameras that sit on the dashboard of a vehicle and are used to capture video recordings of what happens on the road.
There are dozens of dash cam models available that can be purchased and mounted or built directly into vehicles. Some are capable only of recording forward-facing video through the windshield of the car, while others are capable of recording video in both directions, capturing both the driver’s view and the interior of the vehicle, plus what can be seen through the vehicle’s side and rear windows. Many cameras are also capable of recording audio.
Are They Legal?
In the United States, the majority of states allow the use of dash cams in vehicles. Of course, each state and locality will have its own set of rules and restrictions regarding appropriate use. Before you install and use a dash cam in your car, make sure you know what the laws are.
For example: Although dash cams aren’t explicitly mentioned in Texas law, there are some concerns about visibility a
nd electronic surveillance. There is a law requiring windshields to be appropriately free of obstructions, which means that certain means and locations for mounting your camera may not be legal if they are considered to be obstructing your view.
Texas is also a one-party consent state with regard to surveillance, which means that at least one person in the vehicle needs to be aware of any audio or video recordings being made of the interior. If at any time you are not in the vehicle and you fail to inform those in it that you are recording them, it is technically illegal and could hypothetically be used against you (however unlikely that may be).
Clear First-Hand Evidence
One of the greatest benefits of having a dash cam is that it allows you to capture actual video footage of any accidents and the circumstances leading up to them. The quality of the video captures will vary in scope and resolution depending on the model of camera you use, but any dash cam video at all will be beneficial evidence.
Identify Hit-and-Run Drivers
When there’s an accident and the other driver flees the scene, you’re left dealing with the repercussions on your own until someone can identify the other person involved—something that’s never guaranteed to happen. Without contact and insurance information, you’re left having to file claims with your own insurance company while the hit-and-run driver seemingly gets away with it.
If you have a dash cam installed, however, it may be able to capture the driver and/or the vehicle on video at the time of the accident or as they hurry to leave. Even if only a little bit of information can be gathered, like the color or type of car, law enforcement will have a much better chance of tracking down the offender.
Help Prove Your Case to Insurance and Prevent Fraud
Insurance companies can be frustrating to work with after an accident, especially when there is a dispute between parties about what happened and/or who was at fault for the crash. If you have dash cam footage to provide to the insurance company, you can prove what actually happened and eliminate the risk that they will deny coverage based on assumed fault.
Dash cam footage also plays an important role in helping to prevent insurance fraud. If someone is trying to claim more than they deserve or has somehow set up the accident for the insurance money, dash cam video can give them a clearer view of what actually happened and whether or not it supports the claimant’s story.
Easy Driver Monitoring for Trucking Companies and Other Businesses with Vehicles
For trucking companies and other businesses with commercial vehicles, dash cams are an excellent means of keeping an eye on their drivers as well as understanding what happens in an accident. Drivers will be dissuaded from making unscheduled stops or driving recklessly because they know their driving habits and other actions will be visible on camera and in any recorded data. Likewise, the video can help illustrate what happened in an accident, saving everyone involved time and money during litigation.
Expedite Personal Injury Settlements
From a personal injury lawyer perspective, few things are better for a case than actual video evidence of the incident in question. With the ability to show the court and the opposing party exactly what occurred, you can easily gain the bargaining advantage in settlement discussions. Unless the other party can show some evidence that your footage is misleading or inaccurate, there is a good chance they will have to admit to fault and more readily agree to a settlement.
Additional Evidence from GPS Location, Speed, and Other Dash Cam Data
Many models of dash cams also automatically capture a variety of data, including the vehicle’s GPS location, speed, direction, etc. This additional information can help to further flesh out the situation and give courts and insurance companies a better idea of the conditions of the accident.
Data from before the accident can help establish what the vehicle with the dash cam was doing before the crash, while the data from the accident itself can help clarify the speed of the vehicle on impact, how it moved, etc.
Injured in a Car Accident? Find an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer in Houston
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, whether or not you have the benefit of dash cam footage, you can trust the experienced lawyers at Johnson Garcia LLP to give you the legal help you deserve.
For decades, our lawyers in Houston have represented victims of accidents involving passenger cars, commercial vehicles, 18-wheeler trucks, and motorcycles, as well as various other types of personal injury cases. Our attorneys help clients build strong cases and fight to get them the damages they need to cover mounting medical bills, lost income, and other serious losses.
Our process starts with a free initial consultation, during which we’ll discuss your case and determine whether or not you have a good case for a lawsuit. As we proceed, we’ll help you gather the best possible information, including any relevant dash cam footage, cell phone video, photos, or other factual evidence you can provide regarding what happened.
We know that after an accident many of our clients are in serious financial need. That’s why we have a “no recovery, no pay” policy. If for any reason we are unable to recover any damages for you, you won’t have to pay us a thing.