Everyone has seen red light cameras at the corners of intersections throughout Florida. They take a short video or a picture if a motorist enters the intersection after the light has turned red. Although most motorists dread seeing these cameras, they can provide useful evidence in the event someone is injured or killed at an intersection with a red light camera. Many of the cameras are equipped with digital video recorders that will record live feed that can be requested for up to 30 days. Also, if there are multiple cameras at the intersection, you can generally get multiple angles of the crash.
Having a video of the collision can be very useful for a lot of different reasons. For example, if the at-fault driver is disputing that they are at fault or is arguing that the plaintiff is partially at fault, the video can conclusively destroy this argument. Also, the video is useful to show the force of impact in the crash.
Where Can I Get the Video?
Most counties or municipalities contract with third-party vendors to run their red-light programs. Anyone that wants to request the video will likely need to go through the third-party vendor. In order to get this information, you can do some research online and you will generally be able to find what company is used by the county or municipality where your crash occurred. For example, you can see in the photograph to the right is the cover page for an agenda from a Town Council meeting for the City of Miami Lakes. In that agenda, you can find that the Council passed a resolution to award the red-light camera program to American Traffic Solutions. You can find most of these types of documents online for the county or municipality where your case occurred.
If your case occurred in South Florida, there is a good chance the company that handles the red-light program for the county or municipality where your case occurred is Verra Mobility. This company was formerly known as American Traffic Solutions. If you visit their website you can find ways to contact them so you can send them your request.
Don't wait. In most cases, this video is only preserved for 30 days and in some cases even less. Get your request out as soon as possible so you can preserve this potentially useful information.
Getting the Video into Evidence
There is a good argument that the plaintiff's testimony would be sufficient to admit this video into evidence. The plaintiff should be able to testify that the video fairly and accurately depicts the scene of the crash at the time the crash occurred. However, what if neither the plaintiff or defendant can provide this testimony and there are no witnesses. What should an attorney do?
Florida provides a second method of authenticating a video or photo called the "silent witness" method. This method allows a photograph or video to be admitted upon proof of the reliability of the process which produced the tape or photo. See Hannewacker v. City of Jacksonville Beach, 419 So.2d 308 (Fla. 1982). For a red light camera video, you would likely need to take the deposition of an individual at the company that maintains the video to lay the foundation for the video's admissibility. Although this requires more effort, if your video is helpful it would absolutely be worth the trouble to make sure your video can be shown to the jury.