Video evidence emerging as trump card in lawsuits
Consider this, you’re driving down the road and you hear a loud noise. A motorist just crashed into the back of your truck and was killed. Eyewitness testimony states that you swerved out of your lane and into the motorist’s lane putting you squarely at-fault for the crash. If it goes to trial, it’s highly likely that a jury will find you responsible for the crash and award policy limits to the claimant. If you’re a driver of a larger company, the award could be in the hundreds of millions.
This is a real and active scenario playing out in the state of Florida (Wilsonart, LLC vs the estate of Jon Lopez). However in this case the truck driver had a dashcam that was recording at the time of the crash which contradicts the eyewitness testimony.
In-vehicle dashcams are becoming more commonplace with private motorists and commercial truckers should be weighing the decision to do the same. We’ve all seen first-hand the ability of video evidence (VE) to change/shape opinions such as with the high-profile death of George Floyd and they can help in accident scenes (like the one above) as well.
Evidence in a courtroom is what wins cases and VE is the Ace in the deck. VE can show and often prove fault or innocence instead of simply your word against theirs or in this case false testimony. VE cuts down on fraudulent claims that increase premiums, hurt your loss ratio and your ability to work. VE can also give your insurance company added reason to fight your case in court rather than simply settling the claim without a trial.
In the case above, the judge initially handed down summary judgement (without a trial) in favor of the trucker because of the VE. The dashcam video was presented showing that the driver maintained a straight line of travel and did not swerve into another lane rendering the eyewitness testimony as incompetent evidence. The judge later reversed his decision based on an appeal by the Lopez estate claiming a jury should decide the legitimacy of their witness and expert testimony. However, in the absence of the VE, the trucker would have likely been found 100% at-fault.
This and many other scenarios can be challenged with VE and we feel you should have that tool in your toolbox. For less than $200 you can have a camera installed in your vehicle. Be sure that any camera you purchase has the ability to time/date stamp the video and offers a continuous recording feature. If you do install camera(s), be sure to take action on critical events. If you don’t utilize that data properly, lawyers can use that against you in court.