With the inexpensive cameras available today, it's not surprising that so many people are mounting them inside their cars. Most people use them to video what happens on the road in front of them, and there are models that also have rear-view back up camera capabilities to enable people to see what is behind them.
In Florida, there are certain legal aspects to consider if you have plans to install one in your car. The first concern is about recording audio of people inside your car. Florida statutes say that you cannot record audio of anyone without their permission or knowledge, so technically you could be charged with a felony if your dash cam records a conversation in your car without a passenger being aware of it.
Another problem could come up if you are filming someone who is on private property. If a person is out in public, like driving a car, they will not expect to have a reasonable right to privacy. But parking your car to video someone going in or out of their house could land you in trouble.
Florida law also dictates that you do not drive any vehicle that has an obstructed view. If you do install a dash cam in your car, you need to make sure it is mounted in such a way as to not interfere with your view of the road. Some dash cam models are made to mount on the inside of the windshield or on the back of your rearview mirror, and others on top of the actual dashboard. If yours appears to block your view from the driver's seat, don't be surprised if you get pulled over.
Most dash cams come on as soon as the car is started. Some also have a “parked” mode, where the camera will be recording when the car is parked and turned off. We've all seen video online of a valet parking attendant or mechanic at a luxury car dealer taking someone's car for a joyride and thrashing the heck out of it. If that is a concern to you, you may want to mute your dash cam's audio to avoid any legal ramifications related to recording someone without their knowledge or consent.
The video recorded by a dash cam is stored on a tiny SD card inside the unit, and most popular models record in intervals of 3 to 5 minutes at a time. If the camera's SD card becomes full, (usually after about 2-3 hours of recording), it will automatically begin recording over any previously recorded videos.
The good news is most dash cams are equipped with a sensor that feels when your car is involved with some type of impact. At that point, the camera automatically saves the most recent segment of video from immediately prior to the crash, and then that video segment is automatically preserved so nothing can record over it.
Accident Video in Personal Injury Cases
Any type of evidence – whether it's photos or video – can be instrumental in proving who was at fault in a car, motorcycle, truck or pedestrian crash. Today's hi-tech video cameras offer high resolution video capabilities to capture in detail what happened in the event someone hits your vehicle. Dash cam video can also be extremely useful in locating the driver of a vehicle that crashes into you and then leaves the scene. If you have dash cam video of their license plate, you can likely track that person down.
The caveat here is that even if a video clearly shows the other driver what at fault for the crash, it could backfire if it is found that you were speeding, driving distracted or breaking another law while driving your car. Also, any video that your attorney is attempting to use in a court case or as evidence in a personal injury lawsuit must be in its original format, not edited or manipulated in any way. Just like still digital images that contain encoded electronic data, dash cam video can show the date, time and location of the crash, so it needs to coincide with your verbal and written recollection of the crash, or it will not be deemed reliable.
“A dash cam can be a critical element in proving liability in the event of a crash,” says Fort Myers personal injury attorney Scot D. Goldberg. “You may have the insurance company of the person who hit you disputing that they're at fault, but a video of what actually happened can change all that.”
Speaking of distracted driving, people sometimes forget that the dash cam itself can be a distraction while you're behind the wheel. Trying to adjust any settings or move the location of the camera while driving is a dangerous, so if you do use one, just learn to ignore that it's there until you may need to access any video from it once you've safely stopped the car.
The Goldberg Noone Law Firm helps those who have been injured through the negligence or carelessness of someone else. We are always available to speak to you at no charge to help determine if you may have legal recourse for an accident injury. Call us at 239-461-5508 to get the important answers you need immediately following any type of accident injury.