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Should I Get a Dash Cam in My Vehicle?

Dash Cams in North Carolina

Law enforcement agencies have been using dashboard cameras for years. As technology evolves, these devices are becoming popular for civilian use. Should you get a dash cam for your vehicle?

This question has both pros and cons. Dash cam footage can work for or against you, when facing the consequences of a traffic accident. This article examines North Carolina dash cam pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

What Is a Dash Cam?

Dashboard cameras or dash cams are video recording devices that attach to your dashboard or windshield and record video footage as you drive. Dash cams come in various makes and models. Even your smartphone can double as a dash cam using certain apps and a dashboard mount. 

Modern dash cams often have two cameras: a forward-facing camera to record the road and a rear-facing camera that records the inside of the vehicle. Depending on the placement and/or the model of the camera, dash cams can also record speed, acceleration and deceleration rate, wheel and clutch engagement, and more.

Dash cams usually plug into the cigarette lighter. They turn on automatically when you start the vehicle and turn off when you stop. Many devices save the footage onto a memory card. If the memory is full, the dash cam normally will record over old footage. 

Are Dash Cams Legal in North Carolina?

Dashboard cameras are legal in North Carolina. State motor vehicle laws don’t have specific provisions on windshield obstruction. Still, keep safety and visibility in mind when deciding where to place your dash cam.

Why Use a Dash Cam?

A dash cam in your vehicle can help you:

  • Challenge traffic tickets
  • Prove fault in traffic accidents
  • Record details you missed or cannot remember (as in the case of a head injury)
  • Avoid “your word against mine” situations
  • Drive more safely (some dash cams have safety alerts to help you identify dangers and avoid accidents)
  • Monitor the vehicle when it’s not moving
  • Monitor teenagers while driving
  • Record road trips and scenic drives

Can You Use Dash Cam Videos in Accident Cases in North Carolina?

Dash cam footage is usually admissible in traffic accident lawsuits and insurance claims. Keep in mind that a law enforcement officer may take your dash cam after an accident. That may or may not be lawful. A North Carolina accident attorney can investigate the matter and assist you if a police officer seized your dashboard camera illegally.  In most cases, police who investigate a collision will simply watch the relevant camera footage, note their observations and findings, and return the camera to the owner.  Owners in these cases should take steps to preserve the camera footage before returning the dash cam to further use.

North Carolina Dash Cam Pros and Cons: Know This Before Installation

Before mounting a dashboard camera in your vehicle, you should be aware that dash cam footage can work for and against you. 

North Carolina uses a contributory negligence system, meaning you can only seek compensation if the other driver was ENTIRELY AT-FAULT AND FULLY RESPONSIBLE for the accident. If you were even 1% at fault, you will not be able to pursue recovery. 

A dashboard camera can help you establish the other driver’s fault, but it can also show if you contributed to the accident. Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not want your insurance company or the court to get hold of your dash cam footage.  Safe drivers typically benefit from dash cams, as the footage will show that they followed all speed limits and traffic laws and that they did nothing to contribute to causing an accident.  However, with NC’s harsh negligence law, a dash cam that reveals slight speeding or other driver error can be used by insurance adjusters to oppose and defeat otherwise valid personal injury claims.  

Currently, we see dashcam footage presented very rarely, and in just a small percentage of crash cases.  The footage can be very helpful to show what happened, and the post-collision footage can be very compelling as we seek to collect generous payment for pain, stress, and suffering arising from a serious collision.  However, dashcam footage is entirely unnecessary in most cases, and we typically rely on the findings, photographs and testimony of police, emergency personnel, crash victims and witnesses to show what happened, who caused a collision, and what occurred at the crash scene following the accident.

Speak With an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

There are many things to consider when evaluating North Carolina dash cam pros and cons. Remember, dashcam footage can support some cases, and the footage may entirely destroy your rights to compensation in other cases. Certainly, dash cams are not a necessary driving tool at this point.

If you’ve been injured in a traffic accident, call (866) 631-2228 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our home office is located in Winston-Salem, NC, and we have six other offices throughout North Carolina.  We only handle motor vehicle accident cases, and we proudly serve clients statewide at a reduced fee. Call or email us today – our attorneys will analyze your case for free, provide advice and guidance even if you don’t hire an attorney, and explain how we can help you collect maximum payment for all personal injury and property damage claims.