If you were injured in an accident caused by the negligence of a business, third party or local authority, you may be eligible to make a personal injury claim for compensation. However, if you have suffered an injury through no fault of your own, you will need supporting evidence to help bolster your claim.
Based on the circumstances of your accident, your personal injury solicitor will advise you on what pieces of evidence you may need. When available, CCTV footage can provide impartial and irrefutable proof of the event that unfolded and caused your injuries. But how do you request CCTV footage for a personal injury claim?
This guide will share some vital information on your legal right to obtain CCTV footage as evidence for a personal injury claim. If CCTV footage is unavailable, don’t despair; we will also look at other pieces of evidence that can help to support your compensation claim.
What is CCTV, and how does it work with the Data Protection Act?
CCTV is used by the government, councils, businesses and individuals to record premises and public areas. The UK is well known for being one of the most significant users of CCTV cameras, and they are visible on almost any street corner.
If you were in an accident which resulted in an injury in public, there is a good chance it may have been recorded by one of these many cameras and that you can use the footage as evidence.
CCTV is governed by The Data Protection Act 2018, which incorporates the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law. The act protects the identity and information of those who are recorded on CCTV cameras. Anyone with a CCTV camera that records public activity must adhere to these requirements.
Below are some of the most important requirements for anybody who wants to install CCTV cameras:
- CCTV owners are required to inform people if they are being recorded, which can be done by placing visible notices near the cameras.
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) must be informed about the camera and its purpose.
- CCTV owners are only allowed to use the CCTV footage for the intended purposes that the ICO have been told about.
- Access also needs to be controlled to the CCTV to ensure that not just anybody can watch private footage.
The act also aids those who are injured in accidents that have been recorded on CCTV cameras.
Further information about the use of CCTV and data protection laws can be found here on the Gov.uk website.
Do I have a legal right to obtain CCTV footage of myself?
You are perfectly within your right to request CCTV footage of yourself from a business or council. All you need to do is ask for the footage from the CCTV owner using a “subject access request” to obtain information held about you under data protection laws. This sounds like quite a mouthful, but the ICO states that you have the right to access information about yourself.
Although it is in your right to obtain footage from CCTV owners, you may run into a few obstacles. This is where your personal injury solicitor comes in.
How to request CCTV footage of an accident for a compensation claim
As we’ve touched on, having access to CCTV footage of your accident can significantly assist in proving that injuries were not a result of your own negligence and that a third party was responsible for the accident.
If a guilty party gives contradictory statements or denies liability, you can easily prove what caused your accident with the CCTV footage. With this invaluable evidence, your accident claim can proceed as swiftly as possible.
How to submit a Subject Access Request?
A subject access request is a written request (letter, email or online form) you send to the owner of the CCTV footage you are hoping to get a copy of. As CCTV footage is only kept for a short time, you need to act quickly and send the SAR to the camera owner as soon as you can.
Firstly, you will need to find out who owns the CCTV camera. The owner should be easy enough to identify if you had an accident near a shop or a particular business. The owner’s details are usually displayed on a sign near the camera. But if not, you should be able to ask around to find out who it belongs to.
Once you find the details of the CCTV camera’s owner, you need to send them a subject access request. The SAR will inform them that you are requesting footage from them regarding an accident. You will also need to provide proof of identity with the SAR for the CCTV owners.
The SAR notice should also include the date and time of the accident, a description of the accident, and a description of yourself. According to UK law, CCTV owners should provide the footage free of charge, and the footage must be disclosed to you within one month of the request. However, the timeframe can be extended by two further months in some cases, especially if the request is complex or numerous requests have been made.
Collecting evidence for a personal injury claim
If you have been seriously injured or fallen ill due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation. The burden will be on you to prove that you were not responsible for the accident, but luckily your solicitor will provide expert guidance in this matter.
CCTV footage is indeed a key piece of evidence in your claim, but if there is no camera footage available, you still have a few options at your disposal, such as:
- Collect photographic evidence. Take pictures of everything at the scene, including visible damage, injuries, and where the accident happened.
- Speak to other witnesses. Speak to anybody who witnessed the accident and take their details. If you have been in a road traffic accident, exchanging insurance and contact information with the other party is essential.
- Get medical treatment. No matter how slight or insignificant your injuries may seem at first, it is always a good idea to have them checked out. If your injuries are worse than you first thought, your medical records can be used to support your claim.
Frequently encountered problems with accessing CCTV footage
Unfortunately, you may also experience some difficulties when trying to obtain CCTV footage for an injury claim.
If other people are visible in the footage, the owners may be reluctant to share the footage with you. However, your solicitors will be able to request the faces of other people to be obscured or hidden in different ways.
If the footage is being used for an ongoing police investigation, you may not be able to obtain or view the footage.
Sometimes, the CCTV owners might simply be obstructive and not want to provide the footage. To have a greater chance of getting your hands on CCTV footage from the start, consult with a personal injury solicitor.
Why use a personal injury solicitor to request CCTV footage
This is quite simple – by hiring a personal injury solicitor, you can rest assured that all possible issues will be resolved with legal requests.
Using a solicitor from the get-go can be advantageous in speeding the process up and avoiding any unnecessary stress after the accident. Although there is no legal requirement to use a solicitor to request CCTV footage from a council or any other CCTV owner, having a solicitor can be beneficial in ensuring the process is handled correctly and efficiently, particularly if there are complications or disputes over access to the footage.
By using a solicitor, you will be receiving expert advice on all the necessary steps needed to be taken and in which order. CCTV footage is also considered significant evidence, especially when you are claiming compensation for a road traffic accident.
Most businesses and other companies have CCTV cameras pointed in different directions around their premises, providing a perfect road view. Even though they must provide you with the footage, they may refuse your request. When a business denies you access to footage of you, a solicitor can assist in getting the recordings.
So, consult with a solicitor today if you have difficulties obtaining footage of yourself from someone. If the footage is for an injury claim, a personal injury lawyer can provide vital assistance throughout the claims process and ensure you receive the injury compensation you deserve.
In conclusion, requesting CCTV footage can be a crucial aspect of building a strong personal injury claim. While obtaining this footage can sometimes be challenging, a personal injury solicitor can help navigate the process and ensure you gather all the necessary evidence to support your case. Acting quickly and following the correct procedures increases your chances of obtaining the CCTV footage needed to prove your personal injury claim and secure the compensation you deserve.
If you have any questions about using CCTV footage for a personal injury claim, contact 0800 678 1410 for expert advice from an experienced legal advisor. Alternatively, you can arrange a call back by entering your details into our online claim form.