If you were hurt in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, there’s a good chance at least one of the vehicles involved was equipped with an event data recorder (EDR). Also known as “black boxes,” these devices track a number of operational specifics, and more than 9 out of 10 passenger cars and light-duty vehicles manufactured after 2012 have one. Big rigs are also equipped with EDRs, among other recording devices.
Because of the metrics they record, black boxes often allow investigators to determine precisely what happened in the seconds leading up to a crash. As such, they can serve as valuable evidence when building a car accident claim.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has mandated that all passenger vehicle EDRs record at least 15 variables, which include:
- Change in velocity following forceful impacts,
- Ground level speed,
- Throttle input and subsequent acceleration,
- Brake application,
- Seat belt usage, and
- Air bag deployment.
If you sustained serious injuries in a motor-vehicle collision, your legal team will try to obtain all available black box data from the vehicles involved to determine what happened so they can discern liability. Since other drivers are unlikely to surrender such information willingly—especially if it implicates them—your personal injury attorney may have to apply legal pressure by filing subpoenas.
Once your lawyer has gathered all relevant data, they will review it closely for signs that the other motorist failed to act with reasonable care, or signs that another defendant was liable. Upon identifying any reckless driving habits or patterns of neglect, your attorney may consult with accident reconstruction experts to determine the significance of such patterns.
For example, if the data indicates the other party did not apply the brakes or attempt to avoid the collision in any way, it may be a sign that he or she had fallen asleep behind the wheel. The erratic application of the throttle, on the other hand, could be indicative of drunk driving.
Could Black Box Data Hurt My Car Accident Claim?
If your vehicle was equipped with a black box, it’s important to note that the maneuvers you made in the moments before the collision were also recorded. If you contributed to the crash in any way—or you failed to take reasonable measures to prevent it—the EDR data may indicate as much. In other words, the data could highlight the role, however small, that you played in the wreck.
Even if you were partially liable, you are not barred from seeking compensation for the resulting damages. California has a pure comparative fault rule, which states that the plaintiff’s own negligence offsets the defendant’s liability. In other words, the potential payout to which you may be entitled will simply be reduced by your own percentage of fault.
What Kinds of Evidence Might Supplement Black Box Data in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Generally speaking, black box data alone will not be enough to secure a sizable settlement or verdict. Because insurers are ultimately committed to protecting their bottom line, they are not inclined to pay out claimants unless they see sufficient evidence of liability, causation, and damages.
Thankfully, as long as you turn to a reputable personal injury firm, you won’t have to obtain such evidence on your own. A seasoned car accident lawyer will have the resources to gather all kinds of evidence that may contribute to the strength of your claim including:
- Eyewitness Deposition: If you recorded the names and phone numbers of other motorists, passengers, and pedestrians who witnessed the wreck, your legal team will reach out to them to find out if they should be deposed.
- Photographs of the Scene: Accident reconstruction experts can evaluate photos of the wreckage to determine what might have happened in the seconds leading up to the crash. If their findings corroborate the black box data, you will likely have a strong case when it comes time to prove fault.
- The Official Police Report: The officers who responded to the scene should have drafted an official report. This document should include their impressions of the scene. If they had reason to believe one of the other motorists involved was driving while drunk, drowsy, or distracted, for example, they should have noted as much in the report. While such assertions won’t serve as irrefutable evidence of fault because the responding officers didn’t actually conduct a thorough investigation, they could certainly bolster your own claims, assuming they’re in line with your version of events.
- Dash Cam Footage: If any of the vehicles that were involved—or were in the vicinity when the wreck occurred—had a camera mounted on the dashboard, the corresponding footage could help you prove fault. If the incident happened in a fairly developed area, there’s also a chance it was captured by a surveillance system. Keep in mind, however, that the owner of any such footage is under no obligation to retain it for an extended period of time. As such, it’s important to act fast.
Call (562) 206-1939 for a Free Consultation with a Long Beach Car Accident Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you were seriously hurt in a motor-vehicle collision through no fault of your own, contact attorney Michael D. Waks. Our law firm is available 24/7 to take your call. From the moment you reach out to the day your case is resolved, you will be treated with the utmost respect, compassion, and professionalism. For a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in Long Beach, send us an email or dial (562) 206-1939.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency Response .PDF
If you hit the road often, there’s a good chance you will end up in a collision at some point. To ensure you’re prepared for all eventualities, keep our Car Accident Emergency Response .pdf in your glovebox. The scene of a wreck is always chaotic; this handy guide will ensure you don’t overlook critical details that may contribute to the strength of your subsequent claim. Download it HERE for free.
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