DOT & ELD Guidance Blog

Going on the Offensive: Using Dash Cams to Protect Your Crash BASIC

Trucks get blamed for everything. Large truck defense attorney Doug Marcello shares how drivers can use dash cameras to avoid serious lawsuits.

Doug Marcello, Esq. Attorney at Law

Doug Marcello, Esq. - Attorney for Marcello & Kivisto, LLC.

August 28 , 2020

Costs are ratcheting up, the price for your services are under pressure again, and you’re wondering if — or when — your company may be hit with a nuclear lawsuit.

The reality is that we live in a YouTube world.  If it’s not on video, it doesn’t exist. Enter dash cameras. They provide the visual proof demanded by juries, opposing attorneys, and law enforcement.  No other piece of in-cab technology provides such a substantial return on investment (ROI).

As a large truck defense attorney, I was initially reluctant to embrace dash cams.  It was hard enough to defend truck accidents. Trucks get blamed for everything. After gathering facts from numerous experts, I came to realize that in truck and car crashes, the automobile drivers cause most of the accidents. So, it’s only logical that video evidence would frequently support our defense.

Two Real-Life Scenarios Where Dash Cams Saved the Day

Scenario 1 – It’s Not My Driver’s Fault

My client had just installed their dash camera. Their truck had traveled less than a mile when it was hit by a car that ran a red light at 2:00 a.m.  The next day, the car’s insurer called my client and demanded they pay for the damage to the vehicle.  According to the driver of the car, my client’s truck had run the light. 

My client was able to give the insurer the video of their truck having a green light.

Scenario 2 – It Wasn’t My Driver

My client’s driver was charged with leaving the scene of an accident. According to a witness, my client’s driver caused the accident and the police reacted accordingly.

Fortunately, our client’s trucks have dash cameras.  The video recorded our driver passing by the accident after it had happened.  When the police saw the video, they dropped the charges.  Without that video, the driver would have been subject to a serious offense.

Avoiding the Nuclear Verdict

There have been many reports of “nuclear” lawsuit settlements where video evidence could’ve exonerated drivers if they had been in use:

  • $89.7M - 5/17/18 (Texas) - Pickup truck lost control and crossed the median into the path of a CMV. The plaintiff argued that the driver of the CMV should not have been on the road due to weather conditions, and the driver was not compliant with the company’s weather policy.
  • $54.2M - 10/16/17 (Illinois) - A personal vehicle driving the wrong direction on the highway caused a chain-reaction collision in which a truck driver rear-ended another vehicle while trying to avoid an accident.

Hindsight is 20/20 for these fleets, but you can have it now with dash cameras. They give you a better chance to protect your driver and your company.  Even if you can’t fully exonerate your driver, video evidence may still motivate a plaintiff to settle more quickly and for less than expected.

Learn how J. J. Keller Encompass Dash Cam Pro can help you protect your fleet from a nuclear verdict.

About the Author

Doug B. Marcello is a trucking defense attorney and a transportation defense attorney with 30+ years of trial experience. His knowledge of the trucking industry allows him to represent trucking companies in Central Pennsylvania and throughout the country. Doug is a CDL holder and is an active member of: TIDA, TLA, CTLA, ATA (Safety), TCA, PMTA, NYMTA, NJMTA, and OTA.


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