Having a Dash Cam Can Be Important if You Are Involved in a Car Accident in Arizona
Imagine this. You’re driving to work along a busy road on a clear morning – the same road you ply everyday. You stop at the red light as you always do, and immediately the light turns green, you ease off the breaks and roll into the intersection. Suddenly, there’s a loud crash as another vehicle plows into the side of your car. Furious, you jump out of your car berating the driver you think is at fault, but to your surprise and frustration, he’s doing the same to you!
While this sounds maddening, as it should, the truth is automobile accidents are typically tangled affairs. No one wants to admit they’re at fault after a car wreck, and if they can get away with it, they would rather pin the fault on you. Dash cams were created for just this purpose – to cut out the “He said, she said” aspect of car crashes and present irrefutable evidence of what happened. But there are many legal questions that pop up when it concerns dash cams. Are they legal in Arizona? Will they be accepted by insurance adjusters? How can they help your Arizona car accident claim? In this article, our Arizona auto accident attorneys explain the value of dash cams in an accident and when they can help your claim.
What are dash cams?
A dash cam, also called a dashboard-mounted camera, is a small video camera that is mounted inside a vehicle and continuously records the outside of the vehicle. As its name suggests, a dash cam may be mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard. Although, many people choose to affix the camera to the inside of their car’s windshield. Depending on the model, some dash cams also offer rear facing cameras to record what’s happening behind the vehicle. Other models support interior video and audio as well. The camera is powered by your car battery, either through a direct connection to the fuse box or through a cigarette lighter. While the price points typically vary, most dash cam models are available under $100.
Are dash cams legal in Arizona?
Dash cams are legal in most US states, although certain states have regulations that might limit their use. One of the most common limitations relates to the specific mounting regulations that users must meet. According to Arizona’s Revised Statute 28-959.01, a dash cam must be displayed in no more than a 7-inch square in the “lower corner of the windshield farthest from the driver”. Or it must take no more than 5 inches in the “lower corner of the windshield nearest the driver”.
In addition, since dash cams may be considered surveillance equipment under certain conditions, extra limitations may apply. If your dash cam comes equipped with audio recording capabilities or an inside-facing screen, you may be required to obtain the consent of passengers in your vehicle before recording. States that require the consent of you and your passenger(s) are regarded as “two-party consent” states.
Arizona is a one-party consent state however, meaning that the consent of only one person is necessary. This means so long as the recording is ongoing with your knowledge and consent, that is sufficient. But there may be difficulties when you are not in the vehicle, such as when your car is at a repair shop, and the recording continues. In such instances, it might be best to disable the audio recording function entirely to prevent a charge of illegal eavesdropping. Since you will mostly be driving on public streets and highways, there’s no real limitation to where you can record. But things might be different when you’re on private property as any audio or video recording there might be regarded as violation of privacy.
Can the video be accepted as evidence of a car crash?
If you are submitting an insurance claim after an Arizona car accident, having dash cam evidence can be helpful. But whether the evidence will be accepted depends on various factors. These include the insurance company’s policies, the insurance adjuster, the quality of the video evidence, and so on. As a rule, if the video clearly shows how the accident happened and why, the insurance company will likely be very interested. Where the recording also has an automatic date and time stamp either on its face or in its meta data, it can also be great evidence.
Should your car accident claim get to court, the dash cam footage might be presented as part of the evidence supporting your claim. But a court will want to know that the footage clearly establishes the claim you are presenting, otherwise the video might be rejected.
If you have dash cam footage of the accident that caused you injury or loss, it makes the most sense to bring this to the attention of your attorney. They will examine the video evidence and help you understand where it can add value to your case.
How will the dash cam footage aid your case?
A dash cam will be immensely valuable in helping straighten the facts of your car accident. You can quickly remove any uncertainty about what happened by consulting your dash cam recording. Apart from this, dash cam footage can help you:
- Establish fault: Although certain car accident scenes are straightforward – everyone can tell who was at fault. But in most cases, things are rarely so settled. Video evidence from your dash cam can be very helpful to show factual occurrences such as who ran a red light or braked suddenly, and ultimately help confirm liability. However, it is important to keep in mind that the evidence probably will not answer all questions. Despite this, it will be an important aid in untangling a knotty case.
- Improve a settlement offer: Generally, how much an insurance company will offer to settle an insurance claim depends on factors such as the severity of the accident and the clarity of fault. With the clear evidence of fault available through dash cam footage, insurers may be inspired to make a better offer.
- Indicate the severity of the accident: Even where dash cam footage does not show who is at fault, it can be helpful to show the impact of the accident. Certain insurers may be of the opinion that the impact on the vehicle should not have caused the injuries complained of. But with video evidence, it may be easier to show how those injuries might have occurred from the accident.
Confirm identity: Lastly, the video evidence from your dash cam can be vital in cases where you need to confirm identity, such as a hit and run crash. The footage will not only show your insurer that a hit and run happened, it can also help you catch the perpetrator.
Can a dash cam hurt your case?
While having a dash cam as you drive presents a net positive in the case of an accident, keep in mind that there may be downsides. For one, video evidence is still just that – video evidence. It is not partial, meaning that if you also did something to cause the accident, that evidence will be captured. You cannot tamper with the footage to remove portions that show your wrongdoing as that will amount to a criminal offense.
This is not all bad though, as it can also help you be more careful with your driving. And in the event that you find yourself in an accident where you might have done something wrong, you should not be worried. Things may not be as bad as they seem. Get in touch with an experienced Arizona car accident attorney at once to review the footage and advise you of how it affects your car accident claim.