Dashboard Cameras or “dashcams” are becoming increasingly popular features in cars, trucks – even on top of cyclists’ helmets.
Dashboard Cameras or “dashcams” are becoming increasingly popular features in cars, trucks – even on top of cyclists’ helmets. While dashcams are becoming more common, there is still confusion about the role dashcam footage can play in a personal injury claim, particularly if your claim ends up in court.
In today’s blog post, our car accident team at Swartz & Swartz P.C. will outline the rules around dashcam footage so that you have a clear understanding of how you can use recordings in the event you get in an accident.
Before we dive in, let’s take a step back and quickly lay out the dashcam basics. A car or a truck that has a dashcam will be able to record uninterrupted video footage of the road in front of them or to the side of them. So, if a car swerves in front of you causing you to crash, for example, the dashcam would record events as they occur. Essentially, the dashcam is a neutral eyewitness that reports exactly what happened. This is helpful, because in the unfortunate event that you get into an accident, clear physical evidence that supports your account can drastically improve your chances of a successful outcome in your personal injury case. Put another way, proving liability can be the most difficult part of an accident lawsuit. The court is often forced to rely on personal or eye witness accounts. If you have a dashcam in your car, you have objective information that can show the court and your insurance company what really happened and who was at fault.
In Massachusetts, dashcam footage can be submitted as evidence provided basic rules are followed. So, what are these rules? In Massachusetts, a dashcam is not allowed to be placed on the windshield because it counts as “non-transparent material.” The legal thinking here is that having a dashcam on your windshield could impede your vision, making driving your car or truck dangerous. Massachusetts’ rule states that a dashcam should be attached to the dashboard instead, while a side dashcam can go on the side window, if its total visible light reflectance is not more than 35%. What this means is that the placement of your dashcam on your dashboard or side window must not block more than 35% of light that normally comes in. In a nutshell, your dashcam can’t block too much natural light that would otherwise shine into your car. So, if you get into an accident but your dashcam was incorrectly attached to your windshield, then it is possible that the footage would not be admissible.
Furthermore, in Massachusetts, dashcam video is limited in what it can record. Dashcams are not allowed to record events that take place on private property. Rather, dashcams are only allowed to capture video footage of events that take place in public view or in public areas.
…the dashcam is a neutral eyewitness that reports exactly what happened. This is helpful, because in the unfortunate event that you get into an accident, clear physical evidence that supports your account can drastically improve your chances of a successful outcome in your personal injury case.
Let’s use an example. Say you are driving down a federal highway or a city road and the car in front of you suddenly hits the brakes, causing you to swerve to avoid hitting them, and causing you to crash. According to the law, the video footage would be permissible in court because it took place on public property – in this case state and municipal property. However, say you are parked in your in-law’s driveway, and a neighbor smashes your windshield with a wayward baseball. The dashcam footage that captured the ball hitting your windshield and the perpetrator sheepishly running away from the scene likely could not be used in court because the event took place on private property.
It’s also worth noting that some dashcams also record footage of the car’s interior. According to Massachusetts law, the driver should first obtain consent from any passengers before they start to record what’s going on inside. If you want to use interior footage to help your personal injury case, unless you got permission to record first, the court will not allow its submission as evidence.
When deciding whether or not to submit dashcam footage as evidence, consulting one our experienced Swartz & Swartz P.C., car accident attorneys should be your first step. Be aware, however, that the footage might also show unfavorable information, which can weaken your overall case. Our attorney’s will be able to quickly assess your dashcam footage and work with you to develop a legal strategy that maximizes the success of your case. Don’t wait, call us today.
Our car accident attorneys are here to answer your questions and protect your legal rights. If you want to learn about your potential legal options, call our injury attorneys today at (617) 742-1900; clients from outside of the Boston, Massachusetts area may call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732. At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., attorney is ready to help you get the justice you deserve.
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