Do Insurance Companies Check Traffic Cameras?
In the Digital Age, cameras are recording almost constantly in public places. Businesses install security cameras and closed-circuit television (CCTV) recorders to enhance security and prevent crime. Cities install traffic cameras at intersections to catch red-light runners. Even individuals can use their smartphones to instantly start recording during an event such as a car accident. After a traffic accident, insurance companies may request access to traffic and security camera footage as part of the claim investigation, often with the goal of disproving liability.
How Might an Insurance Company Use Traffic Camera Footage?
When a car insurance company receives notice of an accident, it assigns a claims adjuster to review the claim. The adjuster can take many actions to get to the bottom of who or what caused the car accident, such as asking eyewitnesses to recount what they saw, viewing photographs of the crash scene, obtaining copies of police reports, collecting black box information and accessing traffic cameras. If the crash happened within the view of a traffic camera, the video footage could serve as important evidence. A video of the wreck could help the insurance company assign fault.
Need legal assistance? Contact a Car Accident Attorney
Insurance companies may be able to use video footage to challenge the validity of someone’s claim. It is often a car insurer’s goal to minimize how much it has to pay victims. Insurance companies may go to great lengths to dispute liability. Some may even engage in bad faith insurance practices such as denying valid claims. Many insurance companies try to check traffic cameras for proof the accident did not happen the way the claimant says it did. If video footage does not refute a victim’s claim, it may at least allow the insurance provider to assert comparative negligence.
California’s pure comparative negligence law states that a victim will receive an amount of compensation, less the percentage of his or her fault for the accident, with no limit as to the degree of fault. A plaintiff could be 80% responsible for causing a car accident, for example, but still receive 20% of a compensatory award. An insurance company could use traffic camera footage to prove a claimant’s partial fault for the collision and reduce the amount the insurance company must pay the claimant.
Can This Affect Your Car Accident Claim?
An insurance company could use traffic camera footage to negatively impact your personal injury claim. If the footage counteracts what you claim happened in the accident, the insurance company may have a reason to deny a settlement. The insurance company will have hard proof that you were at fault for the accident, or that someone other than the policyholder bears fault. This could mean seeking recovery through your own insurance company instead – potentially increasing your premiums.
Conversely, traffic camera footage could help your claim if you told the truth about what happened. If the other driver was at fault for your collision, the camera footage could prove your case for you. This will help your claim by providing indisputable evidence as to the policyholder’s fault. A personal injury lawyer can help you access intersection camera or CCTV footage if you believe it will help your case. If the footage hurts your case, your lawyer may be able to mitigate the damage and still help you receive at least partial compensation.
Note that while an insurance company has the right to access public camera footage, it cannot hire someone to record you without your permission. An insurance company cannot stake out your home, for example, for video evidence of you walking on a leg you said was injured. The courts will not admit illegally obtained video footage into evidence during a personal injury trial. Hire an attorney for assistance if you believe an insurance company is using unlawfully obtained video surveillance footage against you. An accident lawyer can help you combat bad faith tactics and fight for fair compensation. Call Liljegren Law Group if you’d like to review your case with an attorney.