Video Surveillance Footage in Premises Liability Cases
Georgia Premises Liability Lawyer Explains Spoliation Issues
Video footage from business security cameras can be invaluable evidence in a premises liability claim. Your attorney can use a recording to identify the liable party and also to counter claims that you caused or contributed to your own injuries. For example, a store’s security footage may show the dangerous conditions, such as an unaddressed spill, that caused your slip and fall accident. For negligent security claims, video footage may show the assault or other incident that caused your injuries. However, you must act quickly to secure this material before it is deleted or altered. This may happen if the camera’s owner is also the liable party in your claim.
If you are harmed due to unsafe conditions on someone else’s property, then it is vital to contact a premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. At the McArthur Law Firm our attorneys can begin working on your case as soon as possible. This includes taking swift action to prevent the loss of crucial evidence such as video footage. If you are unsure whether a camera captured your accident, then we can investigate to see whether such evidence exists.
How Long Do Stores Keep Security Video Footage and How Do I Get It?
There is no universal law or regulation that determines how long a business must keep security footage from their cameras. Most often, security cameras are digital, meaning they run on an automatic loop. This means that new footage records over the old footage on a continuous basis. The amount of footage available at any given time therefore depends on the amount of digital storage the camera has. Some cameras keep only three days’ worth of footage, while others may store recordings for months before rewriting it.
Since it is impossible to know how long video surveillance footage will be available, you should call a premises liability lawyer as quickly as possible after an accident. Even if you are still in the hospital, an attorney can work to preserve this crucial evidence on your behalf.
To do so, a premises liability lawyer will send a spoliation letter (also called a “duty to preserve letter”) to the store, company or owner of any cameras that may have caught your accident on tape. This letter is a legal document informing that party of your intent to file a lawsuit. It also warns that party that it must therefore preserve the video footage as evidence. If the video footage is then deleted, altered or otherwise lost due to negligence or intentional actions, then the business may face legal repercussions.
What is Spoliation of Evidence in Terms of Video Footage?
“Spoliation of evidence” occurs when evidence, like video footage, is lost or tampered with after a duty to preserve that evidence has been imposed. Usually, a letter from an attorney imposes this duty. Spoliation of video evidence is a particular issue in premises liability claims, because the establishment that owns the camera is often the defendant in the case.
For example, if you sustain injuries in a slip and fall accident in a Georgia supermarket, then the store’s security cameras likely captured the incident. However, to recover compensation for your injuries and damages, you would file a premises liability lawsuit against that same supermarket. Therefore, it might be in the best interest of the store owners to destroy the video evidence of your accident. Without this footage, your case will be much more difficult to prove.
However, there are legal consequences for spoliation of evidence. The court may impose certain sanctions, including fines, against a defendant who destroys evidence. The judge may also inform the jury of the spoliation and that the evidence would have demonstrated fault. This can help your premises liability lawsuit after the destruction of video footage.
Learn More in a Free Consultation with a Premises Liability Lawyer
After a slip and fall accident or other injury on someone else property, there may be security footage that can support your injury claim. However, businesses do not keep these recordings indefinitely unless they receive a spoliation letter from an attorney. Therefore, you should contact a Georgia premises liability lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
The attorneys at the McArthur Law Firm have been representing premises liability claims throughout Georgia for decades and have 200 years of combined experience. We are familiar with spoliation issues, and we will work quickly to issue duty to preserve letters on your behalf. If spoliation occurs anyway, then we will fight for sanctions against the liable parties.