Electronic and digital technology affects nearly all aspects of our lives. Traffic and security cameras monitor our streets and roads, and they often record accidents in real-time. Video footage and still images of accidents can be important for car accident lawsuits, but getting the footage is not always easy.
How you go about getting traffic camera footage of your car accident depends on who owns the traffic camera. Many government entities have cameras positioned along the road, but different entities might have different rules for requesting footage. You also have to move fast, as footage is frequently deleted.
If you were in a car accident, there might have been a security or traffic camera somewhere in the vicinity. However, this footage is often only kept for a short period of time, so it is important to act quickly to make certain this critical evidence isn’t lost. Our Indiana car accident attorneys can help you figure out who owns the camera and how you can preserve the footage before it’s lost. Call Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166 for a free case review.
Getting footage from traffic cameras requires identifying who owns the camera in question. In some cases, the local or state police department owns the camera. Other times, the city sets up traffic or other cameras for security reasons. Still, in other cases, cameras are run by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). Our Indianapolis car accident lawyers can help you figure out who is in charge of the camera that recorded your crash.
Getting traffic camera footage of your car accident from the state or city might require a formal request for records. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the public has the right to access a wide variety of government records. While FOIA applies to federal agencies, many states have adopted their own laws that have the same effect as FOIA at the state and local levels. In Indiana, the request would likely be made under the Access to Public Records Act (APRA).
One of the trickiest parts of making an APRA request is determining where to make the request. If INDOT owns the traffic camera, you would not request footage from the local police department because they do not have those recordings from that camera. Your attorney can help you identify who owns the camera and where to submit the request.
To determine how to make a request, we will start by contacting the relevant agency and asking. For example, if we determine that INDOT owns the camera in your case, we can reach out and ask how to request footage. There might be specific forms to fill out or specific language needed in the request. Sometimes they are not helpful and we will need to use one of our skilled investigators to determine who owns the camera and the process to follow.
Once you know where and how to submit your request, the agency in charge of the camera cannot legally deny your request unless the information being sought falls under a special exception. Traffic cameras under most circumstances are fair game for APRA requests. However, it is not uncommon for an agency to be uncooperative, in which case we will need to demand they preserve the footage while we obtain a subpoena under legal process.
After an accident, you might want to know if a traffic camera recorded your crash, but how do you know if a camera was present? Sometimes cameras are in plain sight while others are placed more discretely. If you were in an accident, there might have been a camera in one of the following locations:
While this is a list of some common places to find traffic cameras, there may be cameras in unexpected places. After your accident, our Indiana car accident attorneys can talk to the police about possible cameras in the area. The police might operate traffic cameras in that area or know of other cameras. If the officers at your accident scene do not know, we can follow up with other officers in the police department or with other entities like INDOT.
The location of your accident might also reveal information about who owns the cameras in the area. Local roads are more likely monitored by local agencies like your city or town police department. State highways are probably monitored by state agencies like INDOT or the Indiana State Police.
A dashboard-mounted camera, often called a dashcam, records traffic from inside a car. Many private individuals have dashcams to record the traffic in front of them in case of an accident. If you had a dashcam in your car at the time of the accident, it is crucial that we recover the footage from the camera. This kind of footage can easily settle disputes over issues like whether the car in front of you hit their breaks, used their turn signal, or was otherwise driving carelessly.
Alternatively, another car might have had a dashcam that recorded your accident. This might be harder to come across if the person with the dashcam did not stop or make themselves known. If people did stop to help, we can reach out to them and ask about dashcam footage. Their names and information might be contained within the police report, or they might have given you their information themselves.
Finally, first responders may have had dashcams or body cams when responding to the scene of your accident. Although this footage doesn’t necessarily prove how the accident was caused, it is often very compelling to show the aftermath of an accident and the devastation that was caused as a result of a collision.
Our Hammond, IN car accident lawyers can help preserve and track down dashcam or body cam footage if we believe it exists.
There might also be security footage from private cameras in the area. Private cameras might have recorded your accident, depending on where your accident occurred. Private homes or businesses often have cameras set up for security reasons. If those cameras have a good view of the street, they might record a car accident.
Our South Bend, IN car accident attorneys can obtain this footage by making a request to the people or businesses in the area. This first requires some on-the-ground work by our investigative team. We can get the addresses of any homes or stores and reach out, asking for assistance with footage of the accident. If we can get other contact information like phone numbers, we can speak with them directly.
If you were in a car crash, there is a possibility that a camera in the area recorded the accident or the actions of first responders. If this footage exists, our Fort Wayne, IN car accident attorneys can work to preserve and obtain it. In our experience, the chances of being able to obtain this critical evidence go down significantly with the passage of time, so it is important to act as quickly as possible. Call Wruck Paupore Injury Lawyers for a free case review at (219) 322-1166.
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Don is a founding partner and one of the nation’s top-ranked personal injury litigators. He is a member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, which includes less than 1% of the nation’s trial lawyers, and awarded the highest ranking given by Martindale Hubbel and AVVO.
More importantly, Don understands representing personal injury victims is about more than recovering the best settlement: it’s about helping clients get back on their feet and supporting them in every aspect of their recovery.
In nearly all cases, our clients seek compensation from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Before forming Wruck Paupore, Jason worked for a prominent law firm representing some of the world’s largest insurers. This experience gives Jason a deep understanding of the insurance industry and the strategies it uses to pay injury victims as little as possible.
Jason -- and our entire team -- put this inside knowledge to work to force insurance companies to pay what is actually owed. Often, we use the insurance company’s own tactics against them as we fight for the full compensation our client deserves.
For more than four decades, Keith has been fighting for injury victims. During that time, he’s watched the insurance industry change, with insurers now more interested in protecting their stock price than treating injury victims fairly.
Since the beginning, Keith has put people first. From his childhood in Gary, Indiana during the 1960’s and working his way through law school, Keith has risen to become one of the Midwest’s most respected trial lawyers. He has never forgotten that being a lawyer is about helping people -- and seeing injury victims through struggles in a way that could change their lives forever.
Over the decades, Keith, Don and Jason have fought relentlessly for clients, even when other lawyers have said the case was impossible to win.