To the chagrin of some, video cameras are becoming ubiquitous. It is difficult to travel anywhere without spotting at least one nearby, especially when considering that most people have a smartphone in their pocket with a fully functional camera inside it.
Although the argument can be made that cameras are weakening individual privacy, it can be said with certainty that they are making proving liability in car accidents simpler in many cases. The footage caught on a camera can’t lie and isn’t open for argumentative interpretation most of the time. But there is a difference between having a car accident caught on tape and getting your hands on that tape to use for your claim. If a stranger’s video camera caught recorded your accident, then it might be possible to get a copy of the footage by asking nicely or with an attorney’s help.
How Can Attorneys Get Footage of Car Accidents?
When you hire your lawyer to help with your car accident claim, you should tell them right away if you know about a camera that caught your accident or if you think there might be one. The sooner they hear about a useful camera, the sooner they can take steps to secure the footage before it is erased, either intentionally or inadvertently.
Three things to consider when getting video footage of your crash from other parties:
- Spoliation letter: If the negligent driver who hit you has video footage of the crash, then there is a risk that they will delete the footage and pretend it never existed. Your attorney can send them and their insurance company a spoliation letter, which instructs them to make an honest effort to preserve any evidence they have about the crash to the best of their abilities. In other words, they need to save that footage and should send you a file, or else there could be a reason to suspect intentional tampering that hurts their case’s validity.
- Subpoena: When a third party has video camera footage of a crash but doesn’t want to get involved, your attorney can consider taking legal action to compel them to share that footage. A court can approve a subpoena to hand over documents and files, like digital files of video camera footage, if it is relevant to the case. Subpoenas are usually not the first option your lawyer will consider, though, as using one adds layers and potential complexities to your case. Unless there is a strong reason to believe that the third party has great footage that helps you reduce liability for the accident, going as far as using a subpoena against them is probably unnecessary.
- Asking professionally: To get video camera footage from a third party, subpoenas are often not needed because a professional, polite tone when asking is all that is needed. Your lawyer will know how to ask third parties to surrender copies of what they recorded. Some people are worried about getting involved in the case too much, such as being compelled to become a witness because they shared video footage. A quick conversation with your attorney can help put those worries to rest. You would be surprised with how many people are happy to assist however they can.
Cameras That Might Have Recorded Your Crash
Some of the types of cameras that might have caught your crash on tape:
- Dashcams in the other vehicle or those of drivers who stopped to help
- Traffic cameras on streetlights and other fixtures
- Red-light cameras dedicated to capturing drivers who run red lights
- Security cameras on nearby commercial establishments like retail stores
- Doorbell cameras if your crash happened in a residential area
- Smartphone cameras of passersby
Getting an Attorney’s Help Sooner Than Later
As mentioned, the video footage of your crash could get lost, deleted, or expire before you know it. If you want to make the most of the potential video evidence, then you should speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could be handing a free advantage to the defendant.
People who live in Broomfield, Longmont, and Loveland, Colorado can come to Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. for legal assistance with car accident cases. We know where to find convincing evidence that proves you did not cause your crash, which might mean using our experiences to secure camera footage where available. To discuss your case with our lawyers, dial (720) 809-8310 or contact us online right away.