Eye on Liability: How A $150 Camera Might Save Your Business $1,000,000

Does a picture tell a thousand words? Absolutely. Security camera footage is by far one of the best forms of evidence we as investigators can identify and gather when working both civil and criminal cases. Footage often exposes employee errors, faulty equipment, inattentive staff, theft, major safety violations and much more.

Sometimes however, it shows the exact opposite.

I often find that when talking about security cameras, many friends of mine who are small businesses owners often buck against the idea of having them in their workplace. Often, it comes from a fear that very few have ever faced, but for some reason keeps being perpetuated: "I'll get sued and the tape will be used against me!"

As an investigator, let me try to show a different perspective: For the vast majority of good business owners out there who I see DO have a camera system, nearly each one tells me that the reason they got them was because they were sued. 

Here's why: Camera's don't lie, people do.

The original security camera from 1973. Thankfully, things have changed for the SMALLER.

The original security camera from 1973. Thankfully, things have changed for the SMALLER.

If you are a company that follows safety precautions, treats their employees well, and generally runs a tight ship, a well designed camera system can go a long way in not only preventing but proving your company was not at fault when it comes to litigation due to things like:

  • A slip and fall in the dining room. 
  • A shouting match with a customer that never happened, or that wasn't a shouting match at all.
  • An obscene gesture by an employee that never happened.
  • An accident in the stockroom that never existed. 
  • And on the flip-side to top it all off, the employee theft after-hours that did happen. 

So now we get it: Cameras keep the honest people honest. But they are expensive and difficult into install, right? Not anymore.

Enter the $150 wireless camera.

For the small shop or office, peace of mind for $150 is something many would buy in a heartbeat. Numerous studies have shown workplace cameras lower the chances of an altercation on company property, decrease employee theft, and lower claim filing rates, which is why many insurance companies often give discounts for installing systems, off-setting the camera cost entirely.

Many larger successful companies such as CEC Entertainment Inc. (Chuck E. Cheese) understand very well the role cameras play in their risk management plan, as was described by Jeff Strege, their Director of Risk Management in 2012: 

“We've made a number of claims literally vanish once we produce the video footage to show that what the claimant says, whether it's an employee or a guest, ... didn't really happen,” Mr. Strege said. (Source: businessinsurance.com)

Dropcam is one of several companies providing high quality, easy to set up high definition  security camera solutions for small businesses.

Dropcam is one of several companies providing high quality, easy to set up high definition  security camera solutions for small businesses.

Systems are very inexpensive these days, and many are easy enough to install yourself. Consider Dropcam, a company that I often recommend to shop-owners, restaurants and many small businesses that sells un-obtrusive, ready-to-go cameras beginning at $150, that connect easily to your company WiFi signal. No wires to run. For as little as $99 a year, Dropcam can record footage to the cloud that you can clip and download during a rolling 7-day period (there are 30 day rolling periods available as well). Their IPhone and Android smartphone apps are free, and users can set up smart alerts to tell you when there is motion after-hours.

There are much more elaborate camera systems of course, and determining what kind of camera system is right for your company, where to place them, and how they may need to integrate with your current security system may require speaking with a professional. We know having consulted on dozens of CCTV installations overt the years, camera's like Dropcam are not a "one size fits all" solution. But solutions large and small are much cheaper and much better in the last few years, which makes it the right time to start looking at your options.

The point is to keep your employees safe, and lower your liability. If a former employee or contractor comes knocking at your door with a lawsuit, maybe it has merit, maybe it doesn't...but with rampant workers comp fraud, wrongful termination suits and the like plaguing small businesses, wouldn't it be worth at least looking into a system that only takes a few clicks on your computer to find out the claim is bogus and forward the footage to your attorney?

If you have nothing at all right now and all it takes to potentially save $1,000,000 in an insurance claim settlement is a hundred and fifty bucks and five minutes of set-up time...It might be worth a look.

Stay safe,

Terrence Green



Josh Chandler

Josh is a former Federal officer with over 15 years of management experience in both the public and private sector providing expert investigations and risk management services to numerous Fortune 100 companies. He is the senior case manager for New World Investigations and also supervises the executive protection and bug sweep (TCSM) teams as required by clients. He lives in Orange County, California where he enjoys the cold water, and introducing his friends to paleo cooking.