How to Access Traffic Camera Footage After an Accident


    After a car accident, gathering evidence is crucial to determine liability and ensure fair compensation for injuries and damages. One piece of evidence that can provide valuable insights into the incident is traffic camera footage. Many intersections and roads are equipped with different types of traffic cameras, such as red light cameras, as well as surveillance cameras that may have captured video footage of the accident as it happened. In this blog post, we will guide you on how to access traffic camera footage after an accident and explain its significance in bolstering your personal injury claim.

    1. Report the Accident: The first step after an auto accident is to report it to the police. When law enforcement responds to the scene, the police officer will create an official report detailing the incident, including its location and time. This report is essential when requesting access to footage of a car accident, as it provides important information to identify the relevant camera(s) that may have recorded the accident.

    2. Identify Traffic Camera Locations: Once the police report is filed, identify the potential traffic camera locations near the accident scene. Many cities have traffic cameras mounted at intersections, busy roadways, and high-traffic areas. Typically, these cameras are maintained by the local department of transportation or law enforcement agencies. Researching the city's official website or contacting the local police department can help you identify the traffic camera locations.

    3. File a Public Records Request: To access traffic camera footage, you'll need to file a public records request with the relevant agency responsible for maintaining the cameras. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires governmental entities to provide certain information, including traffic camera video footage. The process may vary depending on the jurisdiction, but in most cases, you can submit a formal request via email, fax, or in person. Make sure to include specific details about the accident, such as the date, time, and location, as well as your contact information, to help the agency locate the footage and deliver it quickly.

    4. Be Timely in Your Request: Time is of the essence when requesting traffic camera footage. Most agencies retain camera footage for a limited period, typically ranging from a few days to a few weeks. Therefore, it's crucial to make your request as soon as possible after the accident to ensure that the footage is still available for retrieval.

    5. Work with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer: Navigating the process of accessing traffic camera footage can be complex and time-consuming. Hiring an experienced car accident attorney can be invaluable during this process. Along with their legal team, they will have the legal knowledge and resources to handle the public records request on your behalf promptly and efficiently. A lawyer can also help preserve crucial evidence and ensure that all relevant cameras are identified and accessed. A reputable law firm may also even offer a free legal consultation to help you get started with your case.

    6. Review the Footage: Once you receive the traffic camera footage, carefully review it to determine if it captured the accident. Keep in mind that traffic camera angles may vary, and some cameras might not be positioned optimally to capture every detail of the incident. Nonetheless, the footage may still provide valuable information, such as the position of vehicles, traffic light conditions, and other factors that could be relevant to your claim.

    7. Obtain Expert Analysis: While reviewing the traffic camera footage, consider obtaining expert analysis, if necessary. Accident reconstruction experts can use the footage to recreate the sequence of events leading up to the collision. This analysis can strengthen your case by providing a clear visual representation of how the accident occurred and who may be at fault.

    8. Preserve the Footage: Make sure to save copies of the traffic camera footage securely. Back up the files to prevent accidental loss, as this evidence is crucial for building your personal injury claim. Your lawyer can advise you on the best way to preserve the footage for future use.

    9. Use the Footage in Your Claim: Once you have gathered and analyzed the traffic camera footage, your personal injury lawyer can integrate it into your claim. The footage can support your account of the accident and serve as persuasive evidence during negotiations with insurance companies or in court, if the case goes to trial.

    Accessing traffic camera footage after a car accident can be instrumental in establishing the facts surrounding the incident and determining liability. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can effectively request and utilize traffic camera footage as a powerful piece of evidence to support your personal injury claim. Remember that working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can streamline the process and ensure that you make the most of this valuable evidence in seeking fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

    A car accident can be a distressing and life-changing event, and it's crucial to gather as much evidence as possible to protect your rights and secure the compensation you deserve. Accessing traffic camera footage can be a game-changer in your personal injury claim, providing an objective and unbiased account of the accident.

    To recap, follow these essential steps when accessing traffic camera footage after an accident:

    1. Report the accident to the police and obtain an official report.

    2. Identify potential traffic camera locations near the accident scene.

    3. File a public records request with the relevant agency promptly.

    4. Act quickly, as traffic camera footage is typically retained for a limited time.

    5. Consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle the request and guide you through the legal process.

    6. Thoroughly review the obtained footage and seek expert analysis, if necessary.

    7. Preserve the footage securely for future use in your claim.

    8. Integrate the footage into your claim to support your account of the accident and establish liability.


    By following these steps and utilizing the traffic camera footage effectively, you can significantly strengthen your personal injury claim and increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other damages resulting from the accident.

    Remember that the legal process can be complex, and insurance companies may attempt to minimize your compensation as there are multiple factors that affect the value of a car accident settlement. Having a skilled personal injury lawyer by your side ensures that your rights are protected, and your claim is advocated for aggressively. Your lawyer will handle all aspects of accessing the traffic camera footage, obtaining expert analysis, and building a compelling case on your behalf.

    Insurance companies may not be enthusiastic about an injured accident victim having access to traffic camera footage for various reasons. While insurance adjusters may claim to be fair and objective, their primary goal is to protect their company's interests and minimize payouts. Here's why insurance companies may not favor you having the camera footage and why it's essential to have an experienced attorney help you with your case:

    1. Evidence of Liability: Traffic camera footage can provide clear evidence of liability in a car accident. If the footage clearly shows that their insured driver was at fault, the insurance company may be more inclined to offer a fair settlement. However, if they believe the footage is favorable to you, they may attempt to downplay its significance or dispute its authenticity.

    2. Higher Settlement Demands: Having strong evidence, such as traffic camera footage, may empower you to make a more substantial settlement demand. Insurance companies may be hesitant to negotiate with an unrepresented claimant who possesses valuable evidence, as it increases the likelihood of a higher settlement.

    3. Avoiding Legal Action: The insurance company might prefer to avoid a costly and time-consuming lawsuit. If they know you have compelling evidence like traffic camera footage, they may be more motivated to negotiate and settle the claim without resorting to litigation.

    4. Disputing the Footage: Insurance companies may attempt to challenge the accuracy or interpretation of the traffic camera footage to cast doubt on your version of the events. They may argue that the footage is inconclusive, irrelevant, or that other factors contributed to the accident.

    5. Minimizing Compensation: Insurance adjusters are skilled at convincing accident victims to settle quickly for minimal compensation. Without the assistance of an experienced attorney, you may not be aware of the full extent of your damages or the true value of your claim. An attorney will fight to ensure you receive fair compensation for all your injuries, including both immediate and long-term damages.

    6. Coercive Tactics: Insurance companies may use various coercive tactics to pressure unrepresented claimants into accepting inadequate settlements. They may attempt to exploit your lack of legal knowledge and persuade you that the offered settlement is the best you can get.

    This is where having an experienced personal injury attorney becomes crucial. An attorney levels the playing field and protects your interests throughout the claims process:

    1. Legal Expertise: An experienced attorney understands personal injury laws and knows how to navigate the complexities of the legal system. They are well-versed in accessing and interpreting traffic camera footage to support your claim effectively.

    2. Building a Strong Case: Your attorney will gather all relevant evidence, including the traffic camera footage, medical records, witness statements, and expert opinions, to build a robust case on your behalf.

    3. Negotiation Skills: A skilled attorney is a formidable negotiator who can handle insurance companies and their tactics. They will advocate for your rights, ensuring you are not taken advantage of during settlement discussions.

    4. Litigation Support: If necessary, your attorney will be prepared to take your case to court and present the evidence, including the traffic camera footage, before a judge and jury. They will fight tirelessly for your best interests.

    5. Protecting Your Rights: With an attorney by your side, insurance companies are less likely to use coercive tactics or undervalue your claim. Your lawyer will ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the process.


    If you have been injured in an accident and believe that traffic camera footage may be crucial to your case, it is advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will guide you through the process of accessing the footage, ensure compliance with FOIA requirements, and skillfully use this evidence to strengthen your claim. Remember, your attorney is your advocate, working tirelessly to protect your rights and help you achieve the justice and compensation you deserve.

    If you’re looking for legal representation after a motor vehicle accident, Palermo Law Group is here to help. Our experienced car accident lawyers offer a free case evaluation and understand the importance of thorough evidence collection and analysis in personal injury cases. Our team is dedicated to fighting for your rights and seeking the compensation you deserve. If you need assistance with accessing traffic camera footage or any other aspect of your car accident claim, don't hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation.

    Together, we can navigate the legal complexities, protect your interests, and pursue justice after a car accident. Remember, you don't have to face this challenging situation alone – we are here to support you every step of the way.


    Mario Palermo is the Founder and Lead Attorney at Palermo Law Group in Oak Brook, Illinois. For the past 26 years, he has worked tirelessly to help injury victims and their families in their times of need. He is a seasoned authority on civil litigation, and also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Mr. Palermo has been named a “Leading Lawyer” by his peers in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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