How to Gather Car Accident Evidence from Traffic and Security Cameras

People never expect to be involved in a car accident. They are not thinking they will at some point have to recall, in minute detail, the events that lead up to a crash. After they are involved in a crash, they attempt to reconstruct, in their mind, exactly what they think occurred.

Often, important details are not remembered or are inaccurately assumed. Even Major League umpires or NFL referees, who are highly paid to concentrate, watch and make the right calls, still make errors. Human perception is not perfect, even under the best of circumstances, so that is why it is important to gather the right evidence before it disappears.

Immediately after an accident, obtaining traffic and video surveillance footage, provided by highway cameras and local businesses, can help support claims to prove another driver's negligence. A personal injury attorney is the best person to coordinate the prompt request and review of any wrongdoing caught on camera before the evidence is erased.

There are several steps to take after being involved in a motor vehicle accident, such as seeking medical attention and contacting authorities, but gathering evidence to support a personal injury claim is also very important. Furthermore, knowing what type of evidence is available can assist a car accident victim in receiving the most beneficial compensation for their accident injury claim. Collecting video footage from local and state government traffic cameras or a nearby business’ security camera can reveal valuable evidence. Why? Because it serves as a real-time review highlighting the exact time and events of the accident. Video footage can answer questions about the scene and can identify who may be at fault.

Metro communities along major throughways are equipped with traffic cameras operated by local municipalities or state highway departments to assist in traffic control and to help identify road issues. Busy interstate arteries and known congested crossroads will often be equipped with the innovative camera technology as well. If a motor vehicle accident takes place at one of these locations, it’s likely to be recorded and available to review for a short time after. In Wisconsin, there are over 375 highway traffic cameras owned and operated by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Many businesses are also equipped with the same video capture equipment. For example, if a car accident occurs in a business district, parking lot, or busy intersection, there is a chance the collision will be caught on a private surveillance camera and it is worth investigating the source to collect this valuable evidence.

Any crash evidence captured on these cameras is owned by either public or private entities and typically only kept for a brief time period, sometimes, as little as 72 hours before being deleted or copied over. This is why it is essential to begin the video evidence request process with the right people, as soon as possible after being involved in any accident.

Police are not required to disclose the location of traffic or security cameras in the area of a crash or provide evidence other than a police report in a motor vehicle accident case. Connecting with a personal injury attorney immediately after an accident will be the most effective way to acquire any crash evidence captured on video.

An experienced legal team can assist with:

• Determining the locations of traffic cameras or businesses with video surveillance near the scene of the crash.

• Contacting the responsible parties who operate and own the cameras.

• Completing any forms and information that must be processed to hand over video footage to be used as evidence.

• Knowing how to store, send, and review the correct video files.

• Ensuring video evidence will indeed support a personal injury claim.

It’s also important to know that while evidence caught on camera may increase the strength of the case for an injured driver, some captured video could negatively impact a claim or compensation if not used appropriately. It’s best to connect with an experienced attorney right away to help navigate all the necessary steps needed to settle a car accident case.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Keith R. Stachowiak
Keith Stachowiak is a Milwaukee personal injury lawyer with Murphy & Prachthauser. With over 25 years of experience, he has represented clients throughout Wisconsin on personal injury cases, including those involving motor vehicle accidents. Keith was recently included in 2019 Best Lawyers and he is listed in the Martindale Registry of Preeminent Lawyers.

Copyright Murphy & Prachthauser, SC

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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