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Using a Vehicle’s Black Box Data in a Legal Case

5 semi trucks

When you read the term “black box,” you might think of an airplane. After an airplane crash, investigators will pull the flight data and cockpit audio from the black box, in order to determine what led to the incident. But, did you know that large trucks and newer passenger cars also have black box tracking systems? After an automobile crash, personal injury attorneys can use the vehicle’s black box data to determine important details that could be crucial to the success of your case.

What is a Black Box? 

“Black box” is the generic term for the computerized recording system in a truck. The device may also be referred to as an Event Data Recorder (EDR). The black box is actually a computer chip that records information about the vehicle’s status, movement, and the driver’s actions. It can record without interruption and preserve several days of data at a time. Black boxes, or EDRs, have been installed in large commercial vehicles since the mid-1990s and in many passenger vehicles since the early 2000s.

While there are different models of black boxes, and the data they record can vary, these devices are able to track the following information:

  • Hours in service
  • Tire pressure
  • Position of the throttle
  • Gear engagement times
  • Steering wheel movement and steering angles
  • Tilt of the vehicle
  • GPS location data
  • Seatbelt use
  • Speed history
  • Application of brakes
  • Any sudden acceleration or deceleration
  • Use of cruise control
  • Force of impact
  • Airbag deployment
  • Communication between the driver and trucking company (for commercial trucks)
  • Diagnostic reports (ex: truck defects)

Some black box models on commercial vehicles can also pull video or audio from inside of the vehicle. It is important to note that black boxes can only record when the vehicle is moving, so this data cannot be used for incidents involving parked vehicles.

How a Black Box Can Help Your Personal Injury Case

If you’ve been injured in an accident, to receive compensation for your injuries and property damage, your attorney must be able to prove that the other driver was at fault. Black box data can provide strong evidence to prove who was responsible for the accident.

This data is particularly strong because it is objective and reliable information. It can show exactly what the other driver was doing in the moments before the crash, as well as the driver’s history and the condition of the vehicle. For example, the black box could show that the driver was speeding right before the accident or that they failed to use their brakes. The black box data could also indicate that the vehicle’s braking system was faulty or that the driver reported the malfunction.

Because the black box records so many details about the driver and the vehicle, it can be one of the best sources of information in a motor vehicle accident case. Black box data can help a personal injury attorney prove the cause of the accident, the magnitude of the crash, and mechanical problems contributing to the wreck.

Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

While black box data can be essential to your personal injury case, it is not easy to access that data. A trucking company or insurance will typically hold the data from the black box and deny access to the device. They may even tamper with the recordings. Additionally, black box data is regularly recorded over, which means that you have to act quickly to preserve the evidence related to your accident.

An attorney can write a spoilation letter to the trucking company that legally compels them to release the data, or they may obtain a court order to preserve the data. In extreme cases, personal injury attorney can also file a restraining order to make sure the trucking company does not tamper with the black box data.

Have Questions? Contact Burrow & Associates

At Burrow & Associates, when our clients are involved in a trucking accident, we always request the black box data. We put the trucking company, insurance company, and opposing party on notice that they are to preserve the recordings. Black box data can be the key to a successful case, so it is important to work with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to preserve your evidence and prove who was at fault for the accident.

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, please reach out to our team of experienced personal injury attorneys. To schedule a free consultation at one of our six Atlanta offices, you can call (678) 323-2394 or use our online contact form.

CategoryPersonal Injury
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