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Is a Dashcam Helpful in My Car Accident Claim?

Should I Get a Dashcam?

Dashcam video of another driver hitting your vehicle can be a dramatic and powerful proof of fault. A dashcam can help identify a hit-and-run driver, prove who had the right-of-way, show the severity of impact, capture reckless or distracted driving in the moments before a crash, and record audio of statements made during and after a crash.

If the other driver denies they did anything wrong, lies about what happened or blames you for the collision, dashcam video will show the truth. The data collected by advanced dashcams showing speed, impact force and GPS location is incredibly valuable for your Colorado auto vehicle accident attorney to analyze the crash and your injuries.

Dashcams Can Help Protect You in a Colorado Accident

Commercial and municipal vehicles have been using dashcams for years to monitor their employees and protect against liability claims. Until recently, retail dashcams for individual use were expensive, low quality and unreliable.

Dashcam technology has significantly improved and the price of dashcams is now at a point where they are affordable for private drivers.

Dashcams can protect against scams and inaccurate accident reporting. Scams involving pedestrians and other drivers staging accidents and injuries are not common, but they do happen. Having a dashcam could protect you from falling victim to this type of insurance scam.

Car accident victims may also have to deal with inaccurate or skewed police reports. The police may write their report skewed in the at-fault driver’s favor, and/or the police did not ticket the at-fault driver, or worse the police give you a ticket because they did not witness the crash and relied on the at-fault driver’s version of events.

The other driver’s insurance company will use the fact that the other driver was not ticketed or that the report is skewed to dispute your claim. Having a dashcam can help protect you from these serious problems.

“High resolution dashcam video is incredibly powerful and is becoming increasingly common in my practice – more and more of my clients are having dashcams installed in their personal vehicles. Bottom line, a clear video showing my client’s car being hit by a negligent driver is one of the most powerful tools available to fight insurance companies.” – Attorney Robert S. Hoover.

What are Dashcams?

Basic Dashcam

A basic dashcam is a small wide-angle digital video camera that is either permanently or temporarily attached to your windshield and either wired to your car’s electrical system or powered through a battery, USB cord or cigarette lighter.

When you start your car, the basic dashcam will activate and record everything in front of your vehicle and save the video to a memory card. When the memory card is filled up, the dashcam will begin recording again over the oldest video.

A basic dashcam can be purchased for approximately $125.00 and be permanently installed for another $100.00 – $150.00 at any automotive electronics shop. A rear-facing camera can be added for additional cost.

Pricier models of basic dashcams may have a small screen for playback, will record audio and may have GPS capability.

Advanced Dashcams

Advanced dashcams use high-definition (4k) video, are GPS enabled, can upload directly to cloud storage and connect to your smartphone via a Bluetooth or WiFi hotspot.

High-definition video allows for better recognition of other drivers and often has enough resolution to capture facial expressions and vehicle license plates. Many dashcam systems now record audio and video of the passenger compartment of your car.

When a crash occurs, advanced dashcams will mark the time of impact and preserve the video and data of the crash in a special file that you can download to your cell phone in just a few minutes.

Advanced dashcams can also be configured to monitor your parked vehicle that will capture video of impacts and alert you with a text message.

Advanced dashcams start around $250.00 and can run to more than $1,000.00. Installing and configuring an advanced dashcam can be complicated, so it’s advisable to have it professionally installed.

Factory-Installed Dashcams

Newer top-of-the-line luxury vehicles from Cadillac, BMW, Lexus and Audi have limited versions of dashcams factory installed (OEM) or have them available as an option.

Unfortunately, the major car companies lag behind the after-market dashcam companies. Most OEM dashcam systems have relatively poor resolution and typically only save a few seconds of crash video and no crash data.

Tesla is currently the only car manufacturer with a standard OEM advanced dashcam system with front, rear and side high-definition cameras, parked-car monitoring, and extensive crash data preservation. On any OEM dashcam system other than Tesla, obtaining video and data is a complicated process and may not be recoverable after a crash.

The rear backup cameras installed on most cars today do not record video.

After-market dashcams provide better quality video, superior data retention and and much easier access to video and data than factory-installed dashcams.

Drawbacks to Dashcams

Dashcams record everything, good and bad

If you have an advanced dashcam installed, it will record everything, including audio of what you say during and after a crash.

In the adrenaline rush after a crash, you might not realize that you are injured and tell the other driver or the police that you were not injured.

Later, you may realize you are hurt but the dashcam recording of your first statement after the crash will be used by the other driver and their insurance company to deny your claim.

There can be other downsides to a dashcam such as:

  • If you are angry or aggressive, the dashcam will capture that and the other driver and their insurer will use that to attack your credibility.
  • If you were driving erratically or were doing something that caused or contributed to the accident such as texting, talking on your cell phone, changing radio stations or taking your eyes off the road, a dashcam will show this and it could destroy your claim.
  • Lower-priced after-market and factory-installed (OEM) dashcams have average to poor video quality and limited data storage and retrieval capabilities.
  • Dashcam audio will record your phone calls when using your car’s audio system with your phone.
  • Dashcam video that is low resolution or does not clearly show what happened will not be of much use.

Dashcams can contribute to distracted driving

If your dashcam is configured to alert you to lane drift or warn of vehicles that are close to your vehicle, it may make a beep or other noise that can distract you. While this feature is intended to alert you to danger, it could cause you to take your eyes off the road.

You might try to configure your dashcam or look at its video screen while you are driving, which could cause you to take your eyes off the road.

How is Dashcam Video Used in My Claim for Injury and Damages After a Colorado Accident?

If the police are on scene, tell them immediately that you had a dashcam operating. If you are able, (and if the police allow it) download the crash event from your dashcam by sending the video and data to your cell phone.

If your dashcam has a screen, offer to show the video to the police. Send yourself a copy of your dashcam video by email or upload it to cloud storage if available and send a copy of it to the police.

If you only have a memory card with the video of the crash and the police take the card to use in their investigation, be sure to write down the name of the officer and agency that took the memory card.

The injury lawyers at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. will review your dashcam video, and if necessary hire an accident reconstruction engineer to view the video as a part of our analysis of your crash. If the video is clear and helpful, it will be presented to the at-fault driver’s insurance company along with your claim documents and use it as strong leverage in negotiations to get the most compensation we can for your injuries and damages.

If your case ends up in court, and your dashcam video is admitted as evidence, it will be a critical factor in showing a jury exactly what happened and to convince them to hold the at-fault driver responsible for your injury and damages.

What To Look For When Buying a Dashcam

If you want to purchase a dashcam, there are a couple of features you should look for, including

  • windshield and rear window high-definition cameras (at least 1080p and 30fps, 4k is best),
  • low-light capability,
  • crash event indexing,
  • GPS capability,
  • smartphone and/or cloud service connectivity via Bluetooth and WiFi hotspot,
  • either hard-wired or USB/cigarette lighter power source, and
  • toughened case for heat, cold and sunlight.

The benefits of having a dashcam outweigh the negatives, and we believe installing a dashcam is a great way to protect yourself if you are in an accident caused by a negligent driver.

We do not endorse any particular dashcams, however from talking with clients and reading consumer reviews, dashcams from Garmin, Blackvue and Thinkware appear to be excellent choices, with Garmin providing the widest range of dashcams to fit your budget.

Contact an Auto Vehicle Accident Lawyer at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver and have the dashcam video to prove it, the evidence can be very convincing and will help get the insurance company to pay fair compensation for your injuries. Our auto vehicle accident lawyers will help you navigate your case. Contact our attorneys today to discuss your case.

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