Can I Obtain Traffic Camera Video of My Car Accident?

Evidence is important to any accident case, and there’s no better evidence than video footage. If your car accident occurred on a highway, at an intersection, near a commercial business—or even in front of a private residence—there’s a good chance that the entire incident may have been captured on video. The bad news is that obtaining this footage is not always an easy task.

If you’re able to do so, return to the scene of the crash (or use Google StreetView) and look around for any potential sources of video. Take note of any nearby businesses that may be equipped with outdoor surveillance/security cameras, as well as any nearby red light cameras or highway traffic cameras (usually mounted on light poles or overpasses). If the wreck occurred on a residential road, you might even have luck finding a home equipped with a Nest/Ring video doorbell.

The most important thing you can do in this situation is act quickly. Video cameras like these generally record on a loop. What this means is that if the footage is not copied or saved very quickly (sometimes in a matter of days), there’s a good chance it could be permanently erased or overwritten.

While the entities who own these cameras (i.e., the Department of Transportation, local news affiliates, retail businesses, private individuals, etc.) may be under no legal obligation to provide you with a copy of this footage, the truth is that it never hurts to ask. If they give you the runaround or flat out refuse, speak to your attorney. A car accident injury lawyer can often obtain this type of video evidence on your behalf via a spoliation letter, subpoena, or FOIA request.

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