By David Helmey from The Fuentes Firm on November 11, 2016.
A comprehensive study by the FMCSA and NHTSA found that of 66,000 injury accidents involving a car and a commercial truck, more than 56% of the accidents were attributable to the car. A similar study by the Michigan State Police found 65% of fatal crashes were attributable to actions of cars or pedestrians versus 21% attributable to truck drivers, and car drivers were assigned some fault in 81% of fatal accidents involving cars and commercial trucks.
According to NHTSA’s annual “Traffic Safety Facts”, in 61 to 64% of fatality accidents involving commercial trucks from 2012 to 2014, the initial impact point was the front of the truck, where a dash cam would have captured video of the accident.
If your driver was not at fault, dash cam videos can reduce the cost of litigation. By presenting video evidence early on that a plaintiff was at fault, you let their attorney know it will be less expensive to reconstruct the accident and present your defense. You also show the plaintiff’s attorney they are not likely to get a significant return on any expert fees and expenses they invest in the case.
If your driver was at fault, dash cam videos simplify and streamline your defense. If your driver misrepresents or misremembers how the accident happened, significant time and effort can be spent developing a liability defense only to have evidence come to light showing their story is wrong. This unnecessarily increases the cost of the defense. This may also increase your exposure by giving plaintiffs’ attorneys ammunition to present a jury with “another company trying to avoid responsibility.”
Also, even if your driver is at fault, dash cam videos can still help defend against excessive damages claims. If a plaintiff is claiming severe injuries from a minor accident, video showing your driver’s speed and the angle of the accident can show how the claimed injuries may be inconsistent with the forces involved.
Some drivers are resistant to dash cams and see them as invasive. However, drivers may give it a second thought when they see how it benefits them:
1. Litigation is costly to drivers too. Preparing for and attending deposition and trial can take days, or even weeks. Avoiding or minimizing litigation keeps drivers on the road and earning a living.
2. Dash cams can protect equipment from tampering and theft. We have reports of clients who were able to use dash cam video to recover equipment stolen out of their yard by identifying the thieves and showing the equipment’s location. For owner-operators, this technology protects their property. For company drivers, stolen equipment can mean time off-duty or even losing their job because the company can’t afford a new rig.