Can Dash Cam Footage be Used After a Car Accident in Louisiana?
It is a common occurrence – A driver wants to turn left at a traffic light, so they ease into the intersection, waiting to turn. The light turns yellow and oncoming traffic still pours through the intersection. The turning driver is left hanging until the yellow light changes to red, signalling all traffic to stop for an instant, and allowing the turning driver to make a safe left turn.
This happened to a Tesla Model S driver earlier this year. The Tesla waited for the red light, to the safest possible moment to make the turn. The Tesla driver checked to make sure all the traffic had halted and committed to the turn, but an oncoming car blew through the red light and smashed into the side of the Tesla.
To anyone who didn’t witness the crash firsthand, like an insurance adjuster, it might look like the Tesla driver was at fault because they were trying to beat traffic with a reckless turn. Often, the turning driver assumes more fault than a driver who is heading straight down the road.
This crash had two fortunate outcomes. One, despite it being a severe crash, no one was injured. And two, the Tesla came equipped with a built-in dashcam known as a TeslaCam. The dashcam footage ultimately showed how the other driver was at fault, making it an easy decision for insurance companies to recover compensation for the totalled $100,000 Model S.
Because dash-cams are now standard in all Tesla vehicles, conflicting driver stories could be taken out of the equation. Video footage can also ease the complications of collecting witness statements and crash-scene investigations.
The Broad View of Dashcams
Unbelievably, dashcams can be traced back to the 1930s. In the 1980s, law enforcement vehicles used VHS recording on tripods. For years, insurance companies have pushed for cameras in long-haul trucks. The United States saw a 200% surge in dashcam sales in 2013. The market has continued to rise since which has normalized its use in commercial and passenger vehicles.
Right now, insurance costs are not lowered because dashcams are installed, but their presence has clarified what happened during a vehicle crash. Individual drivers, law enforcement agencies, and insurance providers have reaped the rewards regarding determining fault in insurance claims.
Technology has come a long way from VHS recorders on tripods. Mounted dash-cams on a vehicle’s dashboard or windshield offer footage with high definition or 4K capabilities. The recordings are either stored on removable SD cards or files can be wirelessly uploaded into cloud storage.
There are three types of footage to choose from:
- Single-channel or forward-facing dash-cams record what is in front of the windshield
- Dual or double channel dash-cams use two cameras to record the front and the rear of the vehicle
- Four-channel dash-cams record feeds from all four directions
Some dash-cams record in a continuous loop when they are switched on. Most have impact detection, recording once an impact is detected. Newer dash-cams include buffered recording on the impact detection, which records a few seconds before and after a crash occurs. High-end cameras may offer:
- GPS sensors, tracking location, speed, and time
- Motion-sensor parking mode that records a vehicle’s surrounding even when turned off
- Supercapacitors in place of batteries, preventing explosions in high heat
A lot of dashcams give users the ability to access data via a smartphone app. The application offers various benefits, including:
- Change camera settings
- Video playback
- Download video footage
Benefits of the Electric Eye
As previously noted, dashcams probably do not lead to direct discounts from insurance companies, but indirectly, dashcams can potentially keep insurance premiums down. Dashcams help expedites insurance claims by taking away dishonest or misremembered witness accounts.
Dashcams give first-hand evidence of an incident in any situation or environment, no matter if it occurred on a roadway or private property like a parking lot or a driveway. The footage can indisputably establish fault.
Dashcams can also benefit a driver by:
- Serving as evidence to dispute parking or traffic violations
- Preventing drivers from being racial profiled or proving they were racial profiled
- Helping other drivers as a witness if the dashcam records a collision it was not involved in
- Identifying a hit-and-run driver or a driver engaging in road rage. If the dashcam recorded a hit-and-run or road rage incident, it could supply identifying details of the driver
- Identifying thieves or vandals that break into or damage a parked car with a camera
- Monitoring driver behaviour by businesses with fleets of vehicles and recording incidents
- Encouraging safer driving by reviewing videos to identify issues or monitor young or inexperienced drivers
Footage can also be used to preserve good memories. A high-quality dashcam can provide all the beautiful landscapes and scenic vistas that a driver might miss by having to keep their eyes firmly on the road.
The Cons of Dashcams
All this is not to say that there are not any disadvantages to installing a dashcam. Like any double-edged sword, dashcams can protect a driver, but if a driver is careless, it can also cut.
Because Louisiana is an at-fault state, dashcams can implicate drivers, working against a claim in several situations, including:
- Evidence that a driver is driving recklessly and/or not following the designated rules of the road, like speeding or running red lights
- Evidence that a driver is distracted
- Evidence that a driver is partially responsible or at fault
Dashcams usually work with limited memory, and some record over past footage when the memory is full. Recorded incidents should be downloaded and saved.
Even though dashcam footage has been used in court cases, Louisiana law has little to say about them. Technically, there are no laws making them legal, and if they do not obstruct a driver’s view, there are no laws prohibiting them.
Some consideration should be given to privacy laws. To ensure consent, any cab or ride-share vehicle should display a visible sign indicating to their passengers that they are being recorded.
Consult with Experienced Car Accident Lawyers in Louisiana
Contact us at Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC immediately if you experience a car accident. We’ll fight hard for your rights and value your claim based on the laws Louisiana provides. We have a proven track record, with great results for clients represented in car accident cases. Our clients vouch for our work in their testimonials, and we aim to deliver the best service to you.
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