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How Long do Businesses Keep Their Surveillance Footage?

May 26, 2020 | Criminal law

How Long do Businesses Keep Their Surveillance Footage?

***Preservation of evidence for vehicle collisions and defense/prosecution of crime is the most important thing you can do to prevail in your legal matter**

Many who were recently in a car accident or other type of incident often want to know how they can get and preserve surveillance footage from nearby facilities that may have captured the incident. If you believe there is footage of a vehicle collision or criminal incident that affects you, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! DO NOT WAIT TO ACT! TAKE THE FOLLOWING STEPS NOW!

First of all, you a request for this footage must be made quickly or you could lose the evidence forever. Businesses with surveillance or CCTV footage generally keep their footage for 31 days, however, there is no law for most business that would require storage for a certain time. Generally, any storage is a courtesy to the public, serving primarily a greater concern to protect themselves. Some businesses, such as banks, must retain for at least ninety (90) days, but others retain for only fourteen (14) days. The moral of the story is, once it is gone, it is gone. And it will almost certainly impair your case or legal matter.

The first step that will help you absolutely most is to call a lawyer such as Mingledorff Law Firm. We have the documentation and resources prepared and ready to make these requests to any business. Even if you do not want to retain us for future services, which, by the way, is 100% free of charge to personal injury or property recovery clients, we will still assist you in making these time sensitive requests, free of charge.

The reason we are willing to assist you in making these requests for free, no matter what, is because we understand how important preservation of any evidence can be. Too many cases are spoiled to our clients’ detriment because of delay. If you cannot prove your case, you cannot win. That means if you wait, you are likely losing out big time on your recovery. So, because we don’t want anyone to lose money that is owed to them, we are going to help you with these requests.

Assistance from Mingledorff law is important because it is highly advisable, and often required (such as for records from government agencies), to make these requests in writing. This is because when you make a proper request, if it is not in writing and you do not get your evidence, how can you prove you made the request? These requests are powerful, in that they generally create a duty to respond. These requests also start a clock for some people with footage or evidence that can be consequential if they do not respond.

So, if you make a request without a law firm, unfortunately, a lot of people or businesses might not take it seriously and it may go ignored. If there is a problem because you wrote a letter without a lawyer, the ignoring party might even be excused because they didn’t have legitimate notice to preserve evidence supported by law. Sadly, this scenario actually happens all the time and, again, we hope to fix it for everyone

Another reason you want Mingledorff law Firm to handle making these requests is to make sure that you make the request to all the proper facilities, agencies, and possibly even residences, and to make sure it elicits a response. In one car accident, we generally send an immediate request to every agency that could possibly be involved. For example, if you were in a vehicle collision that occurred in Harris County, Texas, my office would immediately send our preservation request to the County Sheriff, Houston Police, Texas Department of Public Safety, responding EMT, local school district PDs (if any), and possibly more depending on exactly the location.

Lastly, you want Mingledorff Law to make the request because businesses do not have to preserve evidence for which a lawsuit has not been filed, as in no power of subpoena. This means that any retention related to a request is a total courtesy. Courtesy requests are ignored for individuals but are rarely ignored when the request comes from a law firm. In our practice, for 40 years, we have never failed to get the evidence requested if the business or individual had it. We have, however, had experiences with clients whose requests have been ignored.

If you are determined to make the request yourself, then please follow this advice.

· Make sure you make a nice letterhead heading, like you would a resume.

· Include a date and subject line professionally

· Check each agency’s website as briefly described above and make sure you follow the public information request mechanism they require. Some online, some email, etc.

· Go on google maps and look at every possible thing in the nearby vicinity of your incident.

· Double check your time and place so you don’t waste time and effort on a bad request or the wrong location. This is crucial because if you don’t get the time right, you may get the wrong video and your evidence could be lost.

· Write your request to include, at least, the twenty-four (24) hours before and after the time of incident so you can ensure you get the proper information. and take a step back and re-read it.

· Be very polite in your choice of language and verbiage; remember you are asking for a courtesy that really only helps you.

· Include contact information.

Remember, if you are pursuing a claim for injury or property damage, preservation of evidence is basically the most important thing. Do not make the mistake that inevitably hurts your matter. This could result in loss of big money for an injury case, or letting evidence slip out of your hands that would otherwise prove a point to your case.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to handle something so important because this is a free service that can be handled by an experienced 40+ year law firm.

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