The use of dash cams and bodycams has been on the rise in recent years as a way to provide video evidence in liability disputes and settle insurance claims. This trend has been especially pronounced in Missouri, where state laws allow for the admission of video evidence from dash cams and bodycams in civil and criminal court cases. While privacy concerns exist, the benefits of reduced insurance fraud and faster dispute resolution often outweigh potential downsides.
Dash cams can provide important video evidence in several common types of lawsuits. In car accident lawsuits, dash cam footage can show exactly what happened during a collision, helping to determine fault and liability. If the dash cam captures another driver clearly causing an accident through their reckless or negligent driving, it can support the injured driver’s injury claim and quest for compensation.
Dash cams are also useful for insurance claims and lawsuits that arise from those. Video from a dash cam can provide visual proof to support or refute claims made to insurance companies following accidents or other incidents. The footage may show the policyholder is not at fault, saving them from unfairly elevated premiums or dropped coverage. Or it could provide evidence of fraud if someone files a dubious claim.
Lawsuits alleging police misconduct during traffic stops or auto accidents can also benefit from dash cam footage from the plaintiff’s vehicle. The video from dash cams and bodycams may support or contradict their version of events. Dash cam evidence helps bring clarity to the often-complex scenarios depicted in these types of lawsuits.
Growth of Dash Cams in Missouri
Dash cams are video cameras mounted on the dashboard or windshield of a vehicle to continuously record footage of the road, traffic, and driving environment. According to industry estimates, over 1 million Missouri drivers now have dash cams installed in their vehicles. This represents nearly 1 in 5 insured drivers in the state.
Missouri laws allow the use of dash cam footage as evidence in civil and criminal court cases. While consent is required for constant recording by passenger vehicles under the state’s wiretapping laws, dash cams are legal for individual driver use.
Prevalence of Police Bodycams
Alongside civilian dash cams, nearly all police departments in Missouri now require officers to wear bodycams. These are small cameras worn on the officer’s uniform to film interactions with the public. The rise of police bodycams in Missouri has been rapid:
- 2014 – Fewer than 5% of Missouri police officers used bodycams.
- 2022 – Over 90% of officers are now equipped with bodycams.
- 2023 – Expected to reach 100% deployment statewide.
After high-profile fatal shootings of civilians by police in Ferguson and elsewhere, bodycams became mandatory for most Missouri departments. They are now standard equipment.
Police officers wear bodycams to record their interactions and encounters while on duty. The footage from bodycams provides transparency and accountability for the actions of both police officers and citizens. Bodycams help provide evidence and context during police investigations, arrests, and other incidents. They also protect officers from false accusations and citizens from potential police misconduct. Overall, bodycams aim to improve public trust in law enforcement by capturing objective visual and audio documentation of police activities. The footage can be used to review police procedures and training practices in order to enhance officer conduct, safety, and community relations.
Benefits of Video Evidence in Settling Claims
Both dash cam and bodycam videos have proven highly beneficial in settling liability claims and insurance disputes in Missouri:
- Reduces insurance fraud – Videos often prove or disprove suspect injury claims and damage reports. This cuts down on inflated or fraudulent claims.
- Quicker resolutions – Adjusters can make claim determinations rapidly when video evidence clearly shows what occurred. This reduces litigation costs.
- Objective evidence – Video eliminates disputes over driver recollections. Footage does not lie or get influenced by emotions and subjective biases.
- Improved safety – Drivers modify their behavior when they know a dash cam or bodycam could record improper driving or misconduct.
- Justice served – False accusations of police misconduct decrease when bodycams show the true interactions. Exonerations also occur because of video evidence.
While privacy issues exist, Missourians have generally embraced dash cams and bodycams because the benefits outweigh the negatives. The trend toward wider adoption will likely continue as the technology improves and prices fall further. Video evidence is becoming indispensable for settling liability claims faster and more accurately.
Potential Concerns and Legal Issues
Despite the many benefits, some concerns exist regarding the widespread adoption of dash cams and bodycams in Missouri:
- Violation of privacy – Continuous recording can infringe on privacy rights, especially for passenger vehicles and police bodycams in homes. Careful policies are needed to balance safety and privacy.
- Distraction from real issues – Overreliance on video at the expense of systemic policy reform for traffic enforcement and policing is a risk. Accountability and better training must remain priorities.
- Unequal access to technology – Lower-income drivers may be less able to afford dash cams to prove their cases. Economic disparities could persist.
- Data storage costs – Police departments face rising costs for storing enormous amounts of bodycam video data, especially with state public records laws. Long-term funding must be secured.
- Consent requirements – Missouri wiretapping law means passenger vehicle owners likely need to disclose and get consent for continuous recording. Failing to do so risks a civil liability.
While these concerns should be addressed, none seem likely to halt the spread of dash cams and bodycams in Missouri. Continued sensible policies and regulations can allow their use to grow while respecting citizens’ rights. With proper safeguards, video evidence will increasingly become the norm to settle liability disputes faster and aid public safety.
If you are involved in a liability dispute, whether related to a car accident, truck accident, pedestrian accident, bicycle accident, or motorcycle accident, dash dam or body cam footage could prove vital. We have 32 offices in 19 states, so get in touch.
Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.