Can I Use Video Footage in My Virginia Beach Car Accident Case?

If you have been in a car accident, having enough evidence to prove your case is critical to getting the financial compensation you deserve for the losses you have suffered. One of the most overlooked types of evidence – and often undisputable – is video footage of the crash. Today, many potential video sources may have recorded your crash, such as traffic camera footage and doorbell cameras.

Obtaining this video footage can be crucial for insurance claims, legal proceedings, and understanding what happened during the incident. While the process might seem daunting, it’s feasible with the right Virginia Beach car accident attorney representing you.

Identifying Relevant Cameras and Doing It Timely

The first step in obtaining video footage is determining what types of cameras may be relevant to your case and where they were located when your accident occurred. One of the first things our law firm does is utilize both Google Maps and a visit to the scene when possible, to look for all forms of video cameras that could be important to the circumstances of the case. Most cameras now record the footage in a digital form, but there are still many forms of digital video imaging that will record over the imaging every 30 days or on some periodic basis. The first thing to point out about this type of evidence is that it must be sought on a timely basis as soon as possible after a collision occurs with a serious injury. And preferably contact an attorney in the first month if possible. We have learned the hard way that in many cases where we seek video footage six months or a year later, it’s gone even under a subpoena. In any case, cameras could be operated by government agencies, businesses, private entities, or individuals. Here are some of the more common types:

Red Light Cameras

Red light cameras are positioned at intersections to capture vehicles that run red lights. This footage is primarily used to enforce traffic laws and issue citations for red light violations. Sometimes, this footage can be subpoenaed from a government entity, and some governments hire third parties who are the source of the footage, period.

Speed Cameras

Speed cameras monitor vehicle speed and capture images or videos of speeding violations. They are often placed in areas prone to speeding or where safety is a concern, such as school or construction zones.

Traffic Monitoring Cameras

Traffic monitoring cameras provide live feeds or recorded footage of traffic conditions on highways, freeways, and major roadways. They help transportation agencies and motorists monitor real-time traffic congestion, accidents, and road closures.

Intersection Cameras

Intersection cameras are positioned at intersections to monitor traffic signals, pedestrian crossings, and vehicle movements. They may capture accidents, near-misses, or violations such as illegal turns or failure to yield.

Surveillance Cameras

These cameras are typically installed at various locations, such as businesses or government buildings, for general monitoring and security. These cameras may capture footage of traffic flow, accidents, and other incidents on the road.

CCTV Cameras

Businesses, government agencies, or private entities often install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras for security and surveillance purposes. CCTV footage may capture public road accidents, hit-and-runs, or criminal activity.

Dashboard and Body Cameras

Many law enforcement vehicles are equipped with dashboard cameras (dashcams), and officers may also wear body cameras. These cameras capture footage of traffic stops, pursuits, and interactions between law enforcement officers and motorists. Although the officer responding to your crash is unlikely to have captured footage of the actual accident, if they are wearing a body camera, it may have recorded important details in the aftermath. Typically, these forms of footage can be obtained either under a Freedom of Information Act request or under a subpoena, but a lawsuit must be pending for a subpoena to be issued.

Private Cameras

In addition to traffic and business cameras, you may be able to obtain footage from private citizens. Today, many bystanders or passengers capture an accident on their cell phones. These recordings can also serve as helpful evidence. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, it may even end up on a social media site.

Many homeowners have exterior security cameras or camera doorbell systems. If your accident occurred in a residential area, one of those cameras may have recorded the incident.

How Can Camera Footage Help?

Whether traffic camera footage will be helpful for your car accident case depends on various factors, including the circumstances of the accident, the availability of relevant footage, and how the footage aligns with your version of events. Here are some ways in which traffic camera footage can potentially benefit your case:

  • Establishing liability – Video footage can provide objective evidence of how the accident occurred, helping to establish liability. It may show factors such as who had the right of way, whether traffic signals were obeyed, or if one party violated traffic laws.
  • Documenting the sequence of events – Footage from multiple angles or nearby cameras can provide a comprehensive view of the accident’s sequence of events. This can help reconstruct the accident and clarify discrepancies in witness testimonies or opposing parties’ claims.
  • Collision dynamics – The footage may capture the moment of impact, including the speed and trajectory of vehicles involved in the collision. This information can help determine the severity of the accident and how it occurred. For example, traffic camera footage can reveal whether traffic signals, such as traffic lights or stop signs, were obeyed by the parties involved. It may show if one driver ran a red light or failed to yield the right of way, establishing liability.
  • Subsequent action of the parties – After the accident, the footage may show the actions of the parties involved, such as exchanging information, checking on injured individuals, or fleeing the scene. This can help establish whether drivers acted responsibly and fulfilled their legal obligations following the accident.
  • Identifying witnesses – Video footage may capture images of bystanders or motorists who witnessed the accident. This can be valuable for identifying potential witnesses to corroborate your account of the accident. Witness testimony corroborated by video evidence can strengthen your case and provide additional perspectives on the events leading up to the collision.
  • Rebutting false claims – If the other party presents false or misleading information about the accident, traffic camera footage can serve as a rebuttal. Objective video evidence can refute inaccurate statements and strengthen your position in negotiations or court proceedings.

Obtaining Video Footage

Whether you need a Virginia Beach car accident lawyer to obtain video footage of your car accident under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) depends on several factors, including the complexity of your case, your familiarity with the FOIA process, and your comfort level in navigating legal procedures.

If you’re unfamiliar with FOIA requirements or unsure about how to proceed, consulting with an attorney who specializes in personal injury cases can provide valuable guidance.

If your car accident case involves multiple parties, disputed liability, or other legal complexities, having a lawyer represent you can be beneficial. A lawyer can assess the specifics of your case, determine the relevance of video camera footage, and handle any legal challenges that may arise during the FOIA request process.

Your attorney can draft a thorough and legally sound request for traffic camera footage, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome. They also have access to resources, such as legal databases and research tools, that can aid in the FOIA request process. An attorney can leverage these resources to gather relevant information and strengthen your request for traffic camera footage.

If the agency responsible for the traffic camera or other entity denies your FOIA request or imposes unreasonable restrictions, having legal representation can help you navigate the appeals process. They can advocate on your behalf, challenge denials or redactions, and pursue legal remedies to obtain the footage if necessary.

If the video footage is owned by a private individual, your attorney may need to request the court issue a subpoena to obtain the information, such as in the case of doorbell camera footage.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm for Legal Assistance

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you need a skilled Virginia Beach accident attorney advocating for you to ensure you get the financial compensation you deserve. Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free case evaluation to find out what legal options you may have. We will work diligently to get you the financial compensation you deserve, like the $1.85 million wrongful death settlement we secured for the family of a young Navy servicemember who was killed when a truck driver attempted to make a left turn in front of the man’s motorcycle. Our firm issued subpoenas for all available information relating to the cause of the crash, and we successfully obtained surveillance video which revealed what occurred.