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Can You Use a Dashcam as Evidence For a Crash In California Court?

Small Video VCR recorder on real view mirror

So you’ve been injured in a car accident. The other driver was clearly at fault; they cut you off on the freeway, or slammed their brakes for no reason, or ran the stop sign, or otherwise did something obviously negligent. But they are refusing to admit fault and, unfortunately, there were no other witnesses to the accident. It is your word against theirs in court, and the car damage alone doesn’t tell the story. Luckily, you previously installed a camera on the dashboard of your car. Surely you can use the footage from the dashcam to prove the other driver’s fault in your case? Continue reading for the answer under California law, and contact a dedicated Glendale car accident lawyer if you or a loved one has been the victim of a traffic accident.

Are dashcams legal in California?

First, a preliminary issue: Are dash cams even legal in California? Are they a violation of privacy or a traffic safety law? California does have laws that regulate both recording devices and devices placed in cars.

Regarding privacy, because dash cams also come equipped with audio recordings, the driver must post a visible notice so that passengers know they are being recorded. If passengers refuse to be recorded, the audio recording must be turned off. There are no particular privacy concerns about the video recording of what happens outside of your car on a public roadway.

As to traffic safety: The California legislature has adopted restrictions on where we can place our various electronic devices in our cars to limit distracted driving accidents. If your cam is outside the permissible areas, then you may be subject to a safety violation. Moreover, the placement of your cam outside the safe zone may be evidence against your safe driving. Under California state law, dash cams can legally be installed outside of the range of airbag deployment in one of three places:

  • A 7-inch square area at the lower right-hand corner of the windshield.
  • A 5-inch square area in the lower left-hand corner of the windshield.
  • A 5-inch square area on the upper center portion of the windshield.

Can you use dashcam footage in a California court?

The short answer is: Yes! Dashcam footage is admissible in a car accident case. The video recording may be the clear evidence that your case needs to demonstrate proof of liability where skid marks, lighting conditions, physical and property damage, etc., do not otherwise clarify fault. It is, however, important to note that your dashcam footage can be used against you. If the footage shows that you were speeding, or distracted, or otherwise doing something wrong, the footage could actually harm your case. So, be careful in choosing to bring dashcam footage to the court. Moreover, dash cams are still only one form of evidence, so you should still collect everything else you need to prove your claim: witness statements, police reports, photographs, etc.

Notably, insurance companies have been slow to adopt dash cams as a particularly reliable source of evidence. They tend to treat the footage on the same level as photographs, and policies often use intentionally vague language about video recordings in order to diminish the value of dashcam footage if it is used against them in court or as part of the claims adjustment process. But, the footage is still evidence nonetheless.

Get Help after a Serious Crash from Our Glendale Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver in California, get help seeking damages from a seasoned professional by contacting the dedicated and effective Glendale personal injury attorneys McReynolds & Vardanyan LLP for a free consultation at 818-855-2115.

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