Can Dash Cam Video be Used as Evidence in New York?

For years, litigation over car accidents frequently boiled down to the word of one driver versus another. Dashboard-mounted cameras have rapidly changed this. Commonly referred to as “dash cams,” they steadily record while you drive. When a crash occurs, the forward-facing camera frequently records the accident frame by frame. This is allowed in New York courtrooms and often has substantial value at trial.

Dashcam video is useful long before a case goes to trial. In many cases, a personal injury attorney can use this footage while negotiating a settlement with an insurance company. If the insurer finds the video compelling, it could result in quick financial recovery on your claim.

The legality of dash cams in New York

To date, the federal government has no restrictions on the use of dashcams. These cameras are legal under New York law as well– with certain caveats. It must be mounted in place and facing straight ahead towards the roadway. The camera may not be pointed at a passenger of the car or manipulated to focus on nearby pedestrians.

Another important regulation to be mindful of involves your view of the roadway. State law prevents anything on your windshield that could obstruct your view. This generally prevents attaching the camera from the window or hanging it from the rearview mirror.

At trial, the courts treat dashcam video evidence much like a photograph. To enter it into evidence, your attorney must establish a foundation for it. This typically requires that you testify that the video is an accurate depiction of the accident as it happened.

Problems with dashboard cameras

The admissibility of this video does not mean much if it is not helpful to your case. The reality about them is that while they can– at times– provide important context for a crash; they frequently offer little direct evidence of what occurred. This is true for several reasons.

Like any gadget, they frequently malfunction. User error can also play a significant role in these problems. If a camera fails to record as intended or the video is accidentally deleted, there is little benefit to be gained from having a camera installed in your vehicle.

Even when dashcams operate as intended, there is no guarantee they will provide valuable evidence at trial. These cameras only record what occurs directly in front of you.  If you are struck on the side or the rear, your dashcam will provide little insight into what happened.

Additionally, not all cameras are made equal. Inexpensive or early generation models have limited storage space and poor visual clarity. When a crash occurs at high speed, the video evidence will likely be blurry and hard to decipher.

Other evidence when dashcam footage is unavailable

When they are not functional, all is not lost. After all, New York City personal injury lawyers have been successfully litigating vehicle accidents without the benefit of them for years. There are countless pieces of valuable evidence that could be used to establish your injury claim, including:

  • Traffic camera videos
  • Witness testimony
  • Accident reconstruction expert testimony
  • Vehicle damage photos
  • Medical records

Contact us at Douglas and London today

At Douglas & London, we never rely on one source of evidence to build a winning claim. While we are prepared to make use of the dashcam video if it is helpful, our New York City car accident lawyers approach every claim with a comprehensive view.

By relying on a wide range of evidence, we put you in the best position possible to recover on your claim. To learn more, schedule a free consultation with Douglas & London right away.