Almost all new vehicles on the roads have a black box built into the engine control module, the airbag control systems, or the powertrains. The black box is similar to the electronic data recorders (EDRs) used in tractor-trailers, ships, and airplanes to record the sequence of events leading up to an accident.
Data from a car’s black box can provide crucial evidence when the fault in a car crash is contested. An experienced car accident attorney can help you secure and analyze the black box data to prove the liability of the negligent parties.
What Type of Data is Recorded by a Motor Vehicle Black Box?
An event data recorder or black box is a device that comes pre-installed by the manufacturer. These devices don’t necessarily run continuously or track every move made by you and the car. Stemming from this, it stores several seconds of data before a deployment or non-deployment incident.
There are no federal regulations regarding the type of data recorded by an EDR. However, most manufacturers follow a generally acceptable standard. The following data is usually captured by the EDR right before, during, and after a crash:
- Force of impact
- Number of impacts
- Steering system performance
- Passenger detection
- Seat positions
- Airbag deployment
- Speed of the vehicle
- Seatbelt use
- Tire pressure
- Gas/oil levels
- Headlights/taillights functions
- Turn signal use
It is necessary for the car’s engine to be turned on for the data recorder to work and store data. Additionally, the storage space is usually limited, which limits the information that can be used as evidence.
Accessing Black Box Data After a Car Accident
There are several privacy and safety regulations surrounding access to black box data. The data recorded on your vehicle’s EDR belongs to you. No one is allowed to access this data without your permission, except:
- Law enforcement officials.
- Insurance claim after obtaining a subpoena for the accident claim.
- Accident reconstruction specialists (with your permission).
There are several challenges surrounding the use of black box data. This is the key reason for reserving this data for complex crash claims. Technicians use special tools for connecting a vehicle’s black box to a device to retrieve the data file. The data is then decrypted and translated into a secure digital file by specialized software. This file may then be viewed for analysis and interpretation.
Helpful Information Stored by Black Box
All vehicles manufactured after September 1st, 2014 are required to have an electronic recording device or a black box. These boxes can provide useful information for proving liability in a car accident claim. Generally, EDRs record and permanently store information only after the airbag is deployed. The data is stored for a short period of time when an airbag fails to deploy.
Useful information stored by an EDR includes:
- Speed before the accident.
- Speed at the time of the crash.
- Whether seat belts were used by all occupants.
- Whether the driver deployed brakes before the crash.
- Whether airbags were deployed.
Black box data can also be useful in multi-vehicle crashes. They can store data regarding the number of collisions and the time period between them. You should act swiftly to obtain this data before it gets taped over or destroyed. Retaining the services of an experienced auto accident attorney can help you obtain this and other evidence, which may get lost if you wait too long.
Proving Liability Using Black Box Data
Crash data from a vehicle’s electronic data recorder can be helpful in proving a personal injury claim. This is especially true in complex situations. For instance, if you were unable to avoid an accident because a dog suddenly darted across the road causing you to slam the brakes hard, you can claim compensation from the negligent dog owner that allowed their dog to run free.
Your attorney will build a strong claim by using data surrounding your speed and brake usage. These are a few other types of situations wherein black box data can come in useful:
- The responsible party is lying about the events leading to the car crash.
- No eyewitnesses.
- The crash resulted in fatal injuries.
- There are conflicting accounts of what happened.
Black Box Data Can be Used Against You
EDR data is a double-edged sword as evidence. The data can be used against you if you are found to be in the wrong. This makes it important to retain the services of a capable car accident attorney. Legally, you are not really required to give access to the insurance company and other parties. Based on this, they may try and trick you into signing over permission for them to access the black box. You should work with a knowledgeable car accident attorney before agreeing to or signing anything.
Our Car Accident Attorneys Can Help You Obtain Maximum Compensation
At Garmo & Garmo, LLP, our seasoned personal injury attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of car accident victims and their families. We have a history of proven results in the form of large settlements and jury verdicts in car accident cases. You can count on us to pursue a solid, strategy-driven claim to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Schedule your free case review with our lawyers today. Call us at 619-441-2500 or contact us online.