The Role of Dashcams in Car Accident Claims: A Legal Perspective

The Role of Dashcams in Car Accident Claims: A Legal Perspective

March 5, 2024

Dash cams serve as a neutral means to establish fault in an accident and detail the events as they unfolded. The success of a vehicle accident injury claim might rely on dash cam evidence to determine liability and the obligation of the at-fault party’s insurer to cover damages.

California’s regulations permit the use of dash cam recordings in vehicle accident claims. Discover how to correctly install a dash cam in your vehicle in compliance with California laws and the potential impact of the footage on your claim.

Key Points:

  • Dash cams are permissible in California for vehicle accident claims, subject to restrictions on their placement within the vehicle.
  • Dash cams are restricted to recording 30 seconds before and after an incident.
  • Consent from all passengers isrequired for audio recordings if your dash cam includes this feature.
  • Law enforcement may seize the dash cam footage if there’s a reasonable belief it could be destroyed.

Since 2011, following new legislation, Californian drivers have been allowed to install dash cams and capture footage, under specific conditions outlined in California Vehicle Code § 26708. These conditions govern the dash cam’s placement, recording duration, and audio capture within the vehicle.

Dash Cam Installation Guidelines

Your dash cam should be positioned in a manner that does not obstruct your view of the road. Acceptable locations for dash cam installation include:

  • A seven-inch square area on the lower-right corner of the windshield, far from the driver.
  • A five-inch square area on the lower-left corner of the windshield, away from the airbag deployment zone.
  • A five-inch square area at the top center of the windshield.

Recording Time Limitations

The dash cam may record based on unusual vehicle motion or manual activation. California law mandates that only 30 seconds of footage immediately before and after a crash can be recorded by the device. Recording beyond these time frames is not permitted.

Audio Recording Notification

In California, a “two-party consent” state, recording conversations requires the consent of all parties involved. If your dash cam is capable of audio recording, you must visibly inform your passengers of potential recording and obtain their consent. The audio recording feature should be disabled if any passenger does not consent.

Law Enforcement and Dash Cam Footage Seizure

In cases where evidence might be at risk of destruction, police are authorized to seize dash cam footage under urgent circumstances. This may occur if, for example, there’s suspicion of reckless driving leading to an accident and a concern that the footage may be deleted.

However, police require a valid reason for seizing dash cam footage. In minor incidents where information is exchanged without further complications, law enforcement does not have the authority to confiscate the dash cam without cause.

Using Dash Cam Footage as Evidence in Accident Claims

While there is no specific law regarding dash cam usage in accident claims in California, the footage can be crucial in proving negligence and fault in an accident.

Dash cam recordings can provide key evidence, such as:

  • The other vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number.
  • The estimated speed of the other driver.
  • Weather and road conditions at the accident time.
  • The dynamics of a collision, including unsafe lane changes or traffic law violations.

For example, dash cam footage can refute claims of sober driving by showing erratic behavior indicative of impairment. This can lead insurers to deem their policyholder at fault, potentially leading to compensation within the policy limits.

If faced with police misconduct, individuals have the right to request dash cam footage from law enforcement, adhering to the procedures outlined in the dash cam california law from 2018, including requests under the Public Records Act and to the California Highway Patrol labeled as “Request for AB 748 Information”.

Limitations on Dash Cam Footage Use

In some instances, footage obtained in violation of California’s dash cam regulations, such as without the knowledge or consent of recorded parties, may be inadmissible in insurance or court proceedings. It’s crucial to consult with Avian Law Group to navigate the legalities of including dash cam footage in your claim evidence.

Obligations to Share Dash Cam Footage

All parties in a car accident claim may utilize dash cam footage, necessitating legal action to compel evidence sharing during discovery. Similarly, parties can request dash cam footage from each other, with refusal to comply potentially resulting in sanctions.

Accessing Dash Cam Footage from a Company Vehicle

California laws grant employees using company vehicles the right to access dash cam footage, which must be provided by employers within five days of request, free of charge.

Maximizing Your Claim with Dash Cam Footage

Dash cam evidence can significantly strengthen your car accident claim, providing clear insights into the incident’s circumstances and contributing factors. Leveraging this footage can expedite the settlement process and lead to a more favorable resolution of your claim.

Posted by

Laura Delgado

Laura Delgado is an accomplished digital marketing specialist at Avian Law Group. She brings with her a wealth of experience and a strong background in criminal justice and psychology, which has proven to be invaluable in her role at the firm. Laura’s exceptional leadership qualities and her ability to excel under pressure enable her to adapt to any situation and contribute significantly to the team.

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