Making a final determination on how an auto accident occurs can be a challenging task. This applies to legal teams as well as accident reconstruction officers who evaluate all aspects of an accident. Accurate information is vital to an accurate reconstruction. The official police accident report will be significant in the final determination of fault, but often the information they obtain from the accident scene can be limited. Along with traditional methods of determining fault in an accident investigation, many new vehicles or commercial rolling stock manufactured in the last decade are now equipped with black box recorders similar to those used on airplanes and other major public transportation vehicles. They can be excellent tools for car accident lawyers when crafting personal injury cases for clients.
Initial Purpose of the Black Box In Motor Vehicles
Also known as a vehicle “event data recorder,” the devices were first installed in school buses and other modes of public transportation to gather statistics associated with mass transit safety improvement. It was later realized that they could also be used in helping to determine accident causation in most situations, which then led to the installation as standard equipment on most modern vehicles. Whether or not a vehicle has an EDR installed is one of the first questions car accident lawyers have in current accident adjudications.
The Importance of Recorded Evidence
Recorded evidence takes much of the confusion out of settling any legal case. Just as it is difficult to argue against a video or photograph at the scene of a collision, black box information provides the same type of certainty. The black box information can be the difference in a case outcome in many situations where fault is being contested, and many times it actually provides enough evidence of fault that a case will be settled out of court because there is little to no argument with many of the findings. When there are questions arising from the initial presentation of evidence, the black box revealings tend to serve as the most definitive material facts.
Black Box Evidence Specifics
While a black box device can be a real advantage in settling the issue of fault in a car accident, it actually reveals only certain specific information. The box is typically installed in the vehicle electrical system, but not always. They can be placed in remote locations within a vehicle. The data is not all-inclusive. However, they do provide necessary information for some injured parties such as the speed of a vehicle immediately before and at the time of the impact, times when the brakes are applied, and steering motions made by the driver. Airbag deployment is also recorded, which can be vital in cases of airbag deployment without striking another vehicle. This can be very useful information when settling cases where unusual vehicle responses or reckless driving behavior is a major factor.
Here are some examples of the types of data that may be recorded:
- Vehicle speed: The black box recorder can record the vehicle’s speed at the time of an accident or other event.
- Acceleration/deceleration: The recorder can also record changes in the vehicle’s speed, such as sudden braking or acceleration.
- Engine RPM: The recorder can track the revolutions per minute (RPM) of the engine, which can be used to determine how the driver was operating the vehicle.
- Seat belt use: The recorder can detect whether the driver and passengers were wearing their seat belts at the time of an event.
- Airbag deployment: The recorder can record when the airbags were deployed, which can be used to determine the severity of an accident.
- Brake usage: The recorder can track when the driver applied the brakes and how long they were applied.
- Steering angle: The recorder can detect the position of the steering wheel, which can be used to determine the driver’s actions leading up to an event.
- Vehicle direction: The recorder can determine which way the vehicle was traveling, such as forward or reverse.
- Time and date: The recorder can record the date and time of an event, which can be used to establish a timeline of events leading up to an accident.
- GPS location: Some black box recorders are equipped with GPS technology, which can track the location of the vehicle at the time of an event.
It is important to note that the data recorded by a black box recorder may vary depending on the make and model of the car, as well as the specific circumstances of the event being recorded. Additionally, access to this data is typically restricted and may require a court order or permission from the vehicle’s owner.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers as Soon as Possible Following an Accident
Time is of the essence in many auto accident cases, even when an involved vehicle has a black box installed. It is vital for car accident lawyers to access this information whenever it is available. Even when an injured victim was not driving a vehicle with an EDR, information gathered from other involved vehicles that may have one can be used for all parties in determining what actually transpired during the collision. There is a definite possibility a claim can be won with the data when fault is being determined. Anyone who has been involved in an accident with a vehicle that may have an EDR should call our offices today and let us put our experience to work for you in your case. Call to schedule an initial consultation where our experienced team of car accident attorneys can assess the details of your case and help you plan a legal strategy to maximize any claim potential.