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19 Jul

How to Obtain Traffic Camera Footage of a Car Accident: A Comprehensive Guide

In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, there’s often confusion, stress, and unanswered questions. You might be unsure of what exactly happened or which driver was at fault. In such situations, obtaining footage from traffic cameras can be instrumental in providing a clear account of the events. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps on how to obtain traffic camera footage following a car accident.

Understanding Traffic Cameras

Traffic cameras are installed at intersections, traffic lights, and roadways for the purpose of monitoring traffic flow, road and weather conditions, and to assist in enforcing traffic laws. These cameras can sometimes capture car accidents and provide crucial evidence that can be used to determine fault and liability.

However, not all cameras you see at intersections are designed to record footage. Some are merely for live monitoring, while others may be owned by private entities, which can make obtaining footage more complex.

Steps to Obtain Traffic Camera Footage

1. Determine the Camera’s Ownership

The first step in obtaining traffic camera footage is to figure out who owns the camera. If the camera is owned by a state or local road agency, the process will generally involve a formal request through that agency.

Private businesses often have cameras that monitor their premises and these can sometimes capture road accidents. To get footage from these cameras, you’ll typically need to contact the business directly.

2. Submit a Request

Once you’ve determined who owns the camera, you’ll need to submit a formal request to access the footage.

For cameras owned by a state or local agency, this usually involves submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. FOIA is a law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government, and most states have similar laws for state and local records.

When submitting a FOIA request, be as specific as possible about the footage you’re seeking, including the exact date, time, and location of the accident. Remember, the more precise you can be, the better your chances of obtaining the relevant footage.

For cameras owned by private businesses, the process may involve negotiation and assurance of privacy and legal considerations.

3. Consult with a Legal Expert

Legal experts, like a personal injury attorney, can be incredibly helpful in this process. They can guide you through the legal procedures, help draft your FOIA request, negotiate with private businesses, and potentially expedite the process.

Challenges in Obtaining Traffic Camera Footage

While traffic camera footage can be a valuable piece of evidence, there are several challenges that can arise in the process of obtaining it:

Short Retention Periods

Traffic camera footage is typically not stored indefinitely. Some agencies or businesses may only keep the footage for a few days or weeks. Therefore, it’s crucial to act quickly following an accident to ensure the relevant footage isn’t erased.

Privacy Laws

Privacy laws vary by state and can affect the accessibility of traffic camera footage. Some states have stringent laws to protect the privacy of individuals who may be caught on traffic cameras.

Limited Camera Coverage

While traffic cameras are widespread, they don’t cover every inch of road. The accident in question might have occurred in a location not covered by a camera.


While obtaining traffic camera footage can be a complex process, it can be a critical part of determining fault and liability in a car accident. Quick action and a clear understanding of the process increase the likelihood of securing this crucial piece of evidence.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to navigate this process alone. Our law firm is ready and willing to assist victims of car accidents in pursuing their legal rights. We have extensive experience with these cases and can guide you through each step of the process, from obtaining traffic camera footage to representing your interests in any legal proceedings.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re committed to providing you with the expert advice and representation you need to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

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