December 13, 2021 | Car Accidents
Video recordings of a car accident can often provide valuable evidence for your injury claim. They can also help you prove what happened and who caused the accident.
Finding and getting these videos can prove challenging, however. You need to identify who might have the footage. Next, you need to figure out how to either secure their cooperation or compel disclosure.
Here is some information about how to get surveillance camera footage of your auto accident.
Possible Sources of Camera Footage
Cameras are everywhere. Police officers wear cameras. Cameras rest high above roads and intersections. Shops, banks, and office buildings have security cameras. Every person with a smartphone has a camera.
Importantly, Oklahoma does not use cameras that could capture the most valuable information. The Oklahoma legislature has tried several times to ban speed cameras and red light cameras.
Since the state might ban the systems, cities in Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation have not invested in this technology. Instead, they only use traffic monitoring cameras to identify traffic jams.
After you identify cameras that might have recorded your accident, you and your lawyer need to get the footage. Some of the steps you can take include:
Determine Who Controls the Footage
In some situations, you can easily determine who controls a video. For example, a security video from a bank’s drive-through probably belongs to the bank.
But in some situations, you might have trouble identifying the person or entity who controls the video. For example, some businesses contract with outside security providers. If you need footage from one of these cameras, you need to contact the security company, not the business.
Send a Preservation Request
After you identify who controls the camera, you need to make sure you can get the footage you need. Each government entity and security contractor has different video retention policies.
You must usually ask the person or entity who controls the video to preserve it for your use. If you do not, the person or entity can follow their normal business practices and delete the video.
Some video retention policies don’t require storage or only offer brief storage of videos. You should speak to a lawyer quickly after your accident so that you can send out preservation requests before the footage gets deleted.
In some cases, the person or entity with control over the footage will cooperate with your request for footage. For example, if you need dash camera footage from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, you can simply fill out a form requesting it.
There are a few reasons you should seek cooperation rather than compelling disclosure with a subpoena. First, you need to file a lawsuit for a subpoena. If you need the video footage for an insurance claim rather than a lawsuit, you cannot subpoena it.
Second, subpoenas can delay your access to the video. Oftentimes, you can get access to the video by simply calling the business or person who owns the camera.
Third, a subpoena can create friction with the business or person with the video footage. Responding to a subpoena costs money because the subpoenaed party must hire a lawyer. By forcing them to hire a lawyer, you risk creating bad blood.
Issue a Subpoena
If you cannot get the entity to voluntarily disclose the video, you may need a subpoena. A subpoena is a directive from a court to turn over the requested evidence. Your lawyer prepares a subpoena and requests the court clerk’s signature. After the court clerk signs it, a process server delivers it to the entity with the video.
The entity must turn over the video or respond in court with reasons why they cannot release the video.
Using Video Footage of Your Accident
Video footage helps you prove the cause and severity of an accident. It can even help you test the accuracy of witness testimony.
Getting video footage can take some work. But in many cases, it will be well worth the effort.
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