They have served as comedic fodder on late-night talk shows for years, often depicting a hapless or distracted motorist trying to stammer out an explanation for a pivotal error in his ways.
They are no laughing matter in Russia, where motorists depend on them to protect themselves against rampant insurance fraud, especially when scam artists stage accidents and then demand money, according to the National Motorists Association.
They are dashboard cameras, more commonly known as "dash cams," which are mounted on the windshield of a vehicle to record the events that transpire – in both a visual and audio format – while someone is driving. Most dash cams record video in a continuous loop, with the most recent video replacing older footage, each time a vehicle is started.
Dash cams are nothing new in law enforcement circles, now motorists are installing dash cams in case they are involved in an accident. Dash cam footage, the thought goes, can serve as an extra layer of insurance in case they must file an accident claim and a dispute arises over the circumstances.
If your mind is reeling with the possibilities, you're wise to raise some smart questions with regard to the legality, use and cost of dashboard cameras.
Dash cams are legal
Recording video on public roads is legal in most states because anything done in public is not protected by privacy laws. There are only two provisos: a dash cam must not obscure a driver's vision and it cannot be used in the course of violating other laws, such as interfering with a rescue operation or law enforcement action.
Some states (though not Nevada) have tried to regulate the audio portion of dash cams by invoking wiretapping laws. However, motorists have learned to navigate such restrictions by seeking the consent of passengers and then asking them to confirm it on the audio tape itself.
Dash cams don't "lie"
Dash cam footage can be used in accident claims under a myriad scenarios, including:
- Lending authority to a claimant's version of events, especially if there were no witnesses
- Settling disputes when motorists intentionally distort or lie about the circumstances of an accident
- Settling disputes when people have disagreements or different memories of an accident sequence
- Providing valuable evidence when both parties involved in an accident have little or no memory about an accident because they have been rendered unconscious
- Clarifying errors or mistakes in police reports
- Capturing images previously unknown or unrecognized
Dash cams are affordable
Many motorists also rely on dash cams to cast another pair of "eyes" on their adolescent children drivers, provide a layer of defense against insurance fraud (as they do in Russia) and, if the dash cam features a motion sensor, to protect their vehicles against theft or vandalism.
For all of these benefits, many drivers don't blink over the cost. Like other forms of technology, the more “bells and whistles” a dash cam includes, the higher the cost. But most respectable models, with high-resolution video, can be purchased for less than $100.
Entrust your dash cam footage to a legal expert
Despite the peace of mind dash cams can provide, it would be a mistake to assume they will be your ace in the hole should you have to file an accident claim. The reason? Insurance companies follow different rules with regard to dash cam footage, with some companies refusing to consider them at all.
To find complete peace of mind, ensure you have an experienced attorney at your side to help you evaluate a dash cam video and expertly lead you through the claim process. The personal injury attorneys in at Greenman, Goldberg, Raby, and Martinez have come to the emotional, financial and physical rescue of thousands of people in southern Nevada since 1970. Their knowledge of the state's laws related to dash cams, car accidents and personal injury is unparalleled. Call for a consultation with this premier team at 702-388-4476 – and watch them set you on the road to confidence.