Car accidents happen every day, and they are rarely straightforward. In most cases, neither driver will take the blame even if it is abundantly obvious who is at fault. To expedite the claims process, you would benefit immensely from hard evidence. Witness testimony only goes so far. Instead, you should look into how to access traffic camera footage because if video exists of the collision, then your claims process will be so much simpler.
Look at Your Surroundings Immediately After a Crash
After getting into a car accident, your first thoughts may not be about calling the insurance agency later. You may be filled with anger, frustration and confusion. You just want to get the other driver’s insurance information and move on. However, before leaving the scene, you need to take note of your surroundings. There are several different types of cameras that could be in the vicinity, and you need to know where all of them are.
The most common type of camera you will benefit from is a traffic or red light camera. You will find these in certain intersections around Florida. While some districts have taken them down due to the belief they infringe on drivers’ safety, other districts have discovered the benefits. Unfortunately, the only way to secure the footage is to have an attorney ask on your behalf. Local governments are not always prompt, and you may not get the results you want if you try to get the footage independently. The agencies responsible for maintaining the cameras are more likely to comply with a lawyer’s request.
You also want to consider surveillance cameras owned by private businesses. These cameras are most often found in parking lots, so if your accident occurred there, then you should absolutely check it out. CCTV cameras are also sometimes pointed toward the entrance of the business, and it is possible it captures some of the street. Private businesses have no obligation to provide this footage to private citizens, but if you ask nicely, then they may help you. Otherwise, you will need your attorney to submit a subpoena.
Finally, you need to consider dash cams. Police cruisers are required to have dash cams now, but many regular citizens have installed them. After the crash, you should ask witnesses nearby if they saw anything. Drivers may have been nice and pulled over to make sure everyone is okay. It is during this time you can check to see if anyone has dash cam footage of the collision. It is a long shot, but it is worth pursuing.
Ask Your Lawyer to Acquire the Footage
There is no time to waste when it comes to accessing traffic camera footage. One question most lawyers receive following an accident is, “How long do traffic cameras keep footage?” Some places retain this footage for as little as 24 hours. At the maximum, you may have 72 hours to get it before it is recorded over. That is why you need to contact your lawyer as soon as possible after the crash. You need to contact your insurance company to begin the claims process, and you should see a doctor shortly after the collision even if you feel fine. However, you also need to contact your lawyer shortly afterward.
When you call your attorney, you should inform him or her that a traffic camera was in the vicinity. Your lawyer can then begin to take the steps to file a subpoena. This is a legally-binding demand that compels a person or entity to release information valuable to the case. An average citizen does not have the power to compel a government agency or business to release video footage. A subpoena is the only way.
Knowing that most cameras retain footage for a day or two, your lawyer will act quickly. In many cases, the subpoena can be submitted the same day the crash occurred. That way if the camera picked up on anything that can help your case, your attorney will get it quickly. From there, you can direct all communications with your insurance company to your lawyer. With all the facts right there for your insurance company, you can expect a much smoother, easier claims process.
Be Aware That Not All Cameras Are Filming
You may think you are in the clear now that you know how to view traffic cameras. However, plenty of Floridians discovered that even through a collision occurred in an intersection, the cameras are not always rolling. In 2013, Sun Sentinel reported on a hit and run that happened to Cyndi Fernandez. After getting hit, she noticed a traffic camera that should have recorded everything. When she made a call to Palm Beach County, she discovered the camera was not rolling at the time.
This was not a singular glitch either. Palm Beach County’s traffic engineer, Dan Weisberg, stated that a video-logging system simply was not in place to record all the footage obtained. He said they did not have the capability of having 100 traffic cameras running 24 hours a day. A live feed is accessible that allows the county to monitor traffic fluctuations, but it is not reliable for going back and seeing who is responsible for a car crash. This is also true of traffic cameras along I-95. Those cameras are used for traffic monitoring, not law enforcement. Therefore, even if you see a camera, you should take it with a grain of salt. You should still gather evidence at the scene by taking pictures and talking to eyewitnesses because the footage may not be there.
Do Not Self-Incriminate Yourself in the Meantime
It can take several days or weeks for the footage to get to the insurance company. You must talk to your adjuster before that time to inform him or her of the collision. During this conversation, you want to avoid taking any of the blame. There is no need for the adjuster to know every single detail at this time. You simply need to state an accident occurred, and you need to file a claim. Even statements that seem innocuous like, “I feel fine” can lead an insurance company to believe you did not suffer significant injuries and do not require as much of a payout.
You also need to be mindful of what you post on social media in the days and weeks that follow. You should not post any details or pictures about the collision online until the case is over. Family members and friends may ask you online if you are all right, and even a simple, “I’m good” can convince an insurance company you are uninjured. Insurance adjusters regularly check people’s online accounts after they have been in an accident. The purpose is to detect fraud, and anything can be misconstrued.
You should not even post pictures of you out having fun. If you suffered an injury, then a picture of you on a bike could tell an insurance adjuster your injuries were not that bad. After all, if you are healthy enough to ride a bike, then the accident must not have been that bad. You do not want your Facebook account to be turned against you, so it is best to stay silent for the time being.
Prepare for the Future
You may have never gotten into a car accident before. That does not mean you should think you are in the clear. An accident can happen to anybody when they least expect it. A claim can take months to complete, so you can do yourself an immense favor by equipping your vehicle with dash cams. Accidents can occur anywhere, and it may be outside of an intersection with a convenient camera in place. It can happen in the suburbs or out in the middle of nowhere. In these cases, it will be your word against the other driver’s, so you need to pursue every advantage you can.
When you call the police to file a report at the scene, you can provide the dash cam footage without the need of your lawyer filing a subpoena. You now have hard evidence of what transpired. It could demonstrate that the other driver made an illegal turn that resulted in the crash. It eliminates any further disputes, and you will have a much simpler claims process. Dash cams are incredibly affordable these days. With the help it provides in the event of an accident, you will be glad you made the investment when the right day comes.
Get Legal Assistance
Whether or not a camera caught the collision on tape, you need to get in touch with an attorney right away. You may need to acquire damages to repair your vehicle or pay for medical expenses. No matter how much evidence is present, you need to hire an attorney who will fight for your rights and work hard to try to get you the damages you are owed.
If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County car accident, I encourage you to contact me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call (561) 513-4957 now. Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. If you need advice on specific legal issues, please consult with a licensed Personal Injury attorney.