Businesses often use a video surveillance system to monitor their establishments for a variety of reasons, including security, property management, and liquor service monitoring. In the event a potential claim happens at your premises, it is crucial that video surveillance footage be handled and preserved correctly. If surveillance is handled incorrectly, it can become unusable and, in some cases, have a negative effect on the outcome of a claim.
What Is Video Surveillance, and What Does It Mean to Preserve It?
A video surveillance system is made up of cameras that capture and record footage of areas inside and/or outside a location. Preserving video footage entails taking the steps necessary to attain, view and save the footage to ensure it will not be taped over and/or destroyed.
Why Is Preserving Video Surveillance Important?
Preserving video surveillance is crucial if a claim occurs because this evidence can be powerful in defending against the claim. Video surveillance should be preserved as soon as a potential defendant is notified of a claim or can reasonably foresee that a claim may be made.
Often, video footage will start to overlap after a certain timeframe to make room for new footage, causing the old footage to be erased or lost. This is why gaining access to video surveillance and preserving it in a timely manner are imperative. Failing to do so could lead to spoliation. A spoliation of evidence claim may be presented may be presented if the evidence has been lost, damaged or altered by those responsible for preserving it, leading to possible penalties or costly claims.*
7 Tips to Keep in Mind
- Check cameras as part of routine maintenance. Make sure the video feed is clear, the connection is secure, and the footage is being stored correctly.
- If you’ve been notified of a claim or you are aware of the possibility of a claim, retrieve your on-site video surveillance footage as soon as possible. If the footage is stored elsewhere (through a security company, cloud storage, etc.), be sure to contact/access the appropriate holder to recover the footage.
- Save the footage in a way that is easily accessible (e.g., on a computer or a flash drive).
- Do not delete any footage. Preserve the full day of surveillance to paint an accurate picture of what transpired throughout the day.
- Ensure the original footage is retained. Cell phone videos of surveillance may not be admissible evidence.
- Retain the preserved surveillance until the claim has been resolved or the statute of limitations has expired.
- Consider contacting a professional in video surveillance preservation for assistance.
*Please note: State laws vary regarding this.