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31 Jul

Requesting Traffic Footage from Local Businesses Following a Car Accident: A Comprehensive Guide

Car accidents can be chaotic and confusing. In the aftermath, it can be challenging to piece together what exactly happened, especially when the parties involved have conflicting accounts. When such incidents occur near local businesses, shops, or stores, there’s a good chance that their surveillance cameras may have recorded crucial details of the event. This article offers a step-by-step guide on how to request this footage and why legal assistance can be beneficial in this process.

Understanding Business Surveillance Cameras

Many local businesses use surveillance cameras for security purposes. These cameras often record not just the interiors of the businesses, but also the surrounding areas, including adjacent roads and intersections. Consequently, they may capture footage of car accidents, providing vital evidence that could help establish the facts of the incident.

Steps to Request Surveillance Footage from Local Businesses

1. Identify Potential Businesses

Begin by identifying businesses near the accident location that might have surveillance cameras. Consider all possibilities — shops, banks, gas stations, restaurants, etc. A quick visit or Google Street View can help identify these businesses.

2. Approach the Business

Once you’ve identified potential businesses, the next step is to approach them directly. It’s generally best to do this in person if possible. Explain your situation and politely request access to their surveillance footage.

3. Formal Request

In many cases, a business may require a formal written request detailing the date, time, and specific footage you need. Ensure you clearly explain why you are requesting this information.

4. Legal Assistance

If a business is reluctant to share the footage due to privacy or liability concerns, you might need legal assistance. An attorney can draft a subpoena if needed, which is a legal document ordering someone to produce documents or testify in a case.

Challenges in Obtaining Surveillance Footage

While securing surveillance footage can be critical, there are several challenges you may face in obtaining it:

Limited Retention Periods

Like traffic cameras, surveillance cameras typically overwrite their footage after a certain period, often ranging from a few days to a month. Therefore, time is of the essence in making your request.

Privacy Concerns

Some businesses may hesitate to release surveillance footage due to privacy laws and concerns. They might be worried about exposing information about their customers or their security setup.

Technical Difficulties

Technical issues with the surveillance system, such as camera malfunctions or poor video quality, can sometimes render the footage useless.

The Role of an Attorney

Navigating the process of securing surveillance footage can be complex, especially when dealing with reluctant businesses or legal roadblocks. This is where retaining an attorney can be highly beneficial.

  • Legal Expertise: A personal injury attorney understands the laws and regulations surrounding such requests and can navigate through the legal challenges.
  • Formal Requests and Subpoenas: Your attorney can help draft a formal written request or a subpoena, compelling the business to provide the needed footage.
  • Negotiations: Businesses might be more willing to cooperate when approached by a legal professional. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf, addressing any concerns the business might have about releasing the footage.
  • Case Evaluation: An experienced attorney can review the footage and determine how to best use it to support your case. They can identify key details that you might overlook.


Obtaining surveillance footage from local businesses following a car accident can be a crucial part of substantiating your claim. Although the process can be challenging and time-sensitive, it’s often a worthwhile effort.

Having an attorney at your side can make the process smoother and increase the likelihood of securing the footage. Our law firm has extensive experience in dealing with such matters and is ready to assist you. We understand the importance of collecting all possible evidence and will fight to protect your rights and interests.

If you’re in need of assistance or have questions about obtaining surveillance footage following a car accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you navigate these challenging circumstances, providing expert guidance and unwavering support every step of the way.

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