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

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Many cars and trucks today are equipped with an Event Data Recorder (EDR) that can record information about the vehicle before, during, and after a crash. Also known as a “black box”, this electronic device is often used to help prove liability in a vehicle collision case. The black box is typically located in the vehicle’s powertrain control or airbag systems.

What Information Does a Black Box Record?

While not every vehicle has a black box, nearly 96% of new models as of 2014 are equipped with one. This box can record all kinds of data regarding the vehicle during an accident, such as:

  • The speed of the vehicle
  • The speed of its acceleration and deceleration
  • Whether the brakes were applied
  • Throttle position
  • Tilt of the vehicle
  • Steering angles
  • The time when airbags were deployed
  • Force of impact
  • Whether you were wearing your seat belt
  • The position of the front seats
  • Number of impacts

Some advanced models are also capable of tracking your GPS location and retrieving audio and/or video from inside the vehicle. The downside is, after a collision, the EDR will only have recordings for about 20 seconds before the crash and 5-10 seconds after it. Also, most EDRs can only record up to 3 “events” before the older records get automatically erased and replaced with the newer ones.

An “event” in this case refers to the impact sustained by the vehicle while it is running. A black box can only record while the vehicle is running (turned on). If the ignition is not turned on or there is no battery power, the box will not record anything. In other words, if you were the victim of a vehicle collision involving a parked car that did not have its ignition turned on, you would not be able to use the black box to establish liability.

How can Black Box Data be Used to Prove Liability in Kentucky?

Accessing the data from a black box is complicated, which is why it is often required to bring in vehicle collision reconstruction experts who have the skills and tools to do it. In the past, courts in Kentucky have allowed the use of EDR data as evidence in accident claim cases.

The data collected from these devices has helped many injury victims prove the negligence of at-fault parties and fill gaps in their stories about the accident. If you have been in a car or truck accident where multiple vehicles were involved, or it is a “he said, she said” situation or the severity of your injury is being questioned, you can use EDR data to prove liability.

But there are certain things you need to keep in mind:

Time is of the essence: Since the black box only stores the data for a short period of time (usually 30 days), you only have that window of time to ensure that the other party preserves their black box data.

For example, if your car crash was caused by a negligent truck driver, the trucking company is under a legal duty to preserve the black box data – only if they know about the accident.

Unfortunately, sometimes, the company may not know about the accident caused by one of its drivers if the truck didn’t directly collide with anything. Maybe the truck forced you to veer off the road or the truck driver drifted into oncoming traffic, causing you to hit another vehicle or an object on the road.

If the truck driver did not inform the trucking company about their near accident (which is highly likely), the company would not know they need to preserve the EDR data. This is why it is so critical for you to work with an accident attorney in KY immediately after the crash.

Dishonesty can be a factor: The other party may destroy/delete the EDR data once they realize it could result in liability. In some cases, they may even refuse to hand the data over.

To handle this situation, your Kentucky personal injury attorney can ask the court to order the other party to preserve the evidence. If they fail to do so, the court can take several actions, including issuing an “adverse inference instruction” which means if the case goes to trial, the jury will be informed that black box evidence existed, but the party intentionally failed to preserve it.

Contact Kentucky Personal Injury Attorneys at John Ruby & Associates to Preserve Data from the Black Box

If you have been in an accident, you must act quickly to ensure the black box or EDR data is preserved. At John Ruby & Associates, we can help you by accessing the data and putting the other party on notice that they must preserve the EDR data of the defendant’s vehicle. To get started, call our office today at 502-373-8044 or message us online to schedule a free consultation.