Event Data Recorder: Your Vehicle’s “Black Box”

I remember seeing coverage of airplane crashes on the evening news when I was kid and they were always talking about looking for the “black box” to help them understand what happened. Nowadays, most vehicles have one of these things, too. So when you have an auto accident there’s a good chance that your EDR (Event Data Recorder) will have a lot of information to help us understand what happened in your crash.

You might automatically assume that you should get that data when you have an injury claim. And you might be right. But you might also be wrong. How do you make this decision?

Like with a lot of aspects of these claims, it’s a tactical decision that may be influenced by several factors. The first thing you should look at is the cost. You’re likely to spend at least $1000 of your money, up front, to get this information from your vehicle. So how does that impact your decision? Well, if you’ve got a chiropractic case that’s probably worth under $10,000, then you may not want to spend $1000 up front, as it may not give you any information that will be necessary (or even helpful) to pursue your claim. On the other hand, the more significant injuries and treatment you’re enduring, the more incentive you have to get that data.

But what will it show? A lot. Here’s a list I blatantly borrowed from another blog post (https://www.devaughnjames.com/blog/can-your-cars-event-data-recorder-black-box-help-your-accident-claim/):

  • Pre-crash vehicle operational dynamics such as the speed, use of accelerator, engine RPM, use of steering wheel.
  • Crash force, both forward and lateral.
  • Crash duration.
  • Application of brakes and activation of antilock brake.
  • Change in speed after impact.
  • Activation of fault codes or warning signals.
  • Engagement of stability control.
  • Vehicle roll angle.
  • Number of ignition attempts after the accident.
  • Use of restraint and engagement of pretension and force-limiter for front seat occupants.
  • Position of front seats.
  • Size (weight) of front seat occupants.
  • Number of impacts.
  • Deployment of airbags, speed of deployment and faults, if any.
  • Activation of the automatic collision notification system.

That could be a lot of help. Or it could hurt your claim. A fair amount of thought should go into the decision to get this information. This is all the more reason you should have an attorney to help guide you if you’re in a serious automobile accident. Call me at 919-929-2992.

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Jeffrey Allen Howard, Attorney at Law, PLLC
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