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Can Your Vehicle’s “Black Box” Help with Your Auto Accident Claim?

black box in car accident

Investigators often rely on a black box for reconstructing the accident scene when a plane crashes. They do this for identifying the actual cause of the crash. But did you know that most modern automobiles have a black box as well? This can be used for assessing what happened during a car accident and who could be potentially held liable for the accident and injury.

What does a Black Box Record?

A black box or an event data recorder (EDR) is included in most new cars sold in the past decade or two in the United States. You can find information regarding a car’s black box in the owner’s manual. These are the basic variables that are recorded in a black box:

  • Vehicle speed
  • Steering angles
  • Acceleration/Deceleration speeds
  • Throttle position
  • Tilt of the vehicle
  • Whether brakes were applied
  • Airbag deployment time
  • Force of impact
  • Whether the driver and passengers were wearing seat belts

Certain models successfully track GPS location as well. They can pull audio and video from inside the vehicle. However, black boxes don’t allow for unlimited tracking abilities. The black box only contains recordings for about 20 seconds from before the crash.

Additionally, most black boxes don’t record more than three events before automatically erasing the older events. Events include anything that may impact the vehicle while it is running. Event data recorders can turn on automatically when the vehicle is turned on. The device cannot function without ignition or battery power.

Legal Owner of EDR and Collected Information

The Driver Privacy Act of 2015 is a federal law that makes the owner or lessee of the car the official owner of the EDR unit, and any data collected by it. This means that an investigator can access the EDR data only when:

  • They have been authorized or ordered by the judiciary to do so
  • They have recorded or written consent from the black box owner
  • Conducting traffic safety research
  • They need data for the purpose of offering medical care for any injuries sustained during the crash
  • They have federal authorization for investigating or inspecting the data

Proving Liability with Black Box Data

It can be difficult to access the data on a car’s black box following a crash. This is why most experienced attorneys use independent investigators and car accident reconstruction experts to get the job done. These experts have the necessary knowledge and tools to get the information required.

Courts in the past have admitted to using event data recorder data as evidence in civil proceedings. This data is useful for injury victims for the purpose of filling gaps in the story regarding the crash. The nature of data collected by a car’s black box can be used for proving liability in the following cases:

  • He said/she said accidents
  • Multi-vehicle accidents
  • Accidents that question the severity of the injury

Can Event Data Recorder Data be Used Against Me?

According to federal law, the owner of the car is the only person that can legally access the data in a car’s black box. However, the owner can give permission to someone else to access that data. Insurance companies try and take advantage of this. They may request recorded or written permission from you for accessing the data. They may analyze the data and find reasons for devaluing or denying your claim.

Drivers that have vehicles with user-based car insurance tracking devices should be wary of these devices. They are generally connected to the car’s black box. Your insurance company may already have access to data regarding the accident if your car collided with a vehicle whose driver is also insured by the same car insurance carrier.

It is recommended that you speak with a licensed attorney before agreeing to record a conversation or signing any paperwork. Your attorney will advise you on the legal process and the best course of action to take.

Preserving Black Box Data

You should consider retaining the services of an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible following the car accident for preserving data in the negligent driver’s black box. The data can be recorded over or the EDR may get lost or replaced when the car goes in for repair. Having a skilled attorney by your side can help preserve the black box and its valuable data before it is lost or destroyed. This evidence may prove key to winning the case.

Speak with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Louisiana

You may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries if a car accident occurred because of the negligent or reckless actions of another driver. You should speak with a skilled auto accident attorney from Trainor Law Firm to understand your legal options and to seek compensation. The attorneys at Trainor Law Firm have the necessary resources, knowledge, and experience to do everything possible for obtaining maximum compensation.

Schedule a free and confidential consultation today to understand the legal implications of having and preserving black box data. Get in touch with us by calling at 985-900-2250 or simply fill out our online contact form

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