If you’ve ever heard of the term “black box” before, then pretty sure you already know that it records vehicle information. But did you know that black box data can strengthen your injury claim? Personal injury lawyers understand how crucial this evidence could be, and they could help you build a strong case using that data.
What is a Black Box?
A black box is a microchip installed into the vehicle system. The proper term for this device is EDR or the event data recorder. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines the black box or EDR as:
“…a device installed in a motor vehicle to record technical vehicle and occupant information for a brief period of time (seconds, not minutes) before, during and after a crash.”
Most cars and trucks sold across the United States already contain a black box since 2013. Most commercial trucks have already been using EDRs since the 1990s, even if regulations came a bit later. A truck’s EDR may have a wider scope of function and data collection than a car’s black box.
Black Box Technology
The main purpose of a black box installed in a vehicle system is to record technical information. In a brief span of a few seconds, the record may include:
- The status of the vehicle and its dynamics before the crash
- Driver inputs
- Vehicle crash signature
- Restraint usage (if the driver/passenger wore seatbelts)
- Deployment status (for activated airbags during the crash)
- Post-crash data (automatic collision notification)
Based on the types of data listed above, a black box, therefore, records data for a specific event. In this context, that event is during a vehicle crash. The NHTSA, however, differentiates black boxes from other devices which log audio and video recordings and operator’s hours of service. Simply put, the black box captures data when a critical event occurs. Its technology functions when triggered by collision sensors and airbags deployment.
On the other hand, commercial trucks use more sophisticated black boxes. As implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, trucking companies have installed ELD in their fleet. An ELD (electronic logging device) records additional data such as:
- Time spent on the road (truck driver’s hours of operation)
- Mileage and speed
- GPS location
- Sudden stops/ braking
- Cruise control usage
- Break times
The range of information recorded in truck black boxes makes it even more valuable in proving injury claims. If you were injured in a recent truck accident, you need that black box for crash investigation. If you were a victim of a multiple-car collision, the black box may reveal the key evidence that you need.
Whether it’s a basic black box or a more advanced EDR, it provides crucial information for crash analysis. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you obtain that valuable EDR information from the liable party.
How to Obtain Black Box Data
A black box usually does not have an interface where data is displayed. Hence, investigators use specialized tools and software for crash data retrieval. They also use software to generate a detailed report downloaded from the EDR.
The information collected from this device is then saved in a secure file format. From the data download to the analysis of the collected data, an expert witness must be present to provide accurate interpretation.
EDR crash data reports have been regarded as vital evidence in law enforcement. For more than twenty years now, black box data remains the main source of unbiased and accurate crash information.
This is where it gets tricky: You see, most types of EDR devices usually store data for up to 30 days or less. This means you need to act quickly. But, how can you easily obtain that crucial piece of evidence? Do you think that the liable party will not withhold that information? Why in the world would they freely give something that can be used against them?
That is why you need to talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can after an accident. Securing that valuable piece of evidence is one of the first things that he/she would do for you. By sending a spoliation letter to the liable party, there is a chance to preserve the data. That spoliation letter sent through a law firm will compel the liable party to provide the evidence for crash analysis. Another way is through filing a restraining order which will prohibit the liable party from destroying all possible evidence, including the black box data.
How does it Help Prove Fault in Accidents?
Accident reconstruction experts may use the black box data for the following purposes:
- Assessing the vehicle speed before the accident
- Determining the severity of the crash impact
- Verifying if the driver was wearing a seatbelt
- Identifying the crash sequence in multiple collisions
- Analyzing the driver input and reaction time
- Establishing accuracy of speed calculations
Experts use the EDR or ELD data to create a representation of the accident. Negligence may be proven if the data revealed information such as:
- Failing to brake at stop signals
- Drifting to the highway shoulder (may indicate distraction or fatigue)
- Sudden swerving (losing control of the vehicle)
In truck accidents, more information may be revealed through its ELDs or electronic logging devices. There are commercial black boxes that record cruise control usage, overloading, vehicle status, and more. Some advanced models record continually and have longer data storage periods.
On Strengthening your Injury Claim
Depending on the circumstances of the case, your accident lawyer will draw strategies to use the data effectively. He/she may use that vital piece of information in deposition or during the trial.
To strengthen your injury claim, your lawyer will present physical evidence, eyewitness and expert testimonies along with the gathered data. Since black box information is irrefutable, it provides solid proof of liability for the party at-fault. As your losses add up after the accident, you need this key evidence to recover. Upon obtaining the black box data, you gain a better chance of winning your claim and recovering compensation.
Were you or any of your loved ones injured in a car collision or a truck accident recently? There may still be time to recover the black box data from the liable party. Contact our legal team today to we can evaluate your case immediately.