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How On-Board Computer Data Can Help Your Texas Car Accident Case

Event Data recorders and car wrecks


If the idea of a black box or computer data proving the details of an accident makes you think of an airplane, it’s time to think smaller (or closer to the ground). Modern vehicles have the technology to supply a variety of information about the moments before an accident.

Your car probably does have a black box. If you’ve been in an accident, the data captured by your vehicle’s black box or that of the at-fault party may help your case.

Event Data Recorder: Your Car’s Black Box

An event data recorder (EDR) or electronic control module (ECM)  also called a “Black Box” is a device installed in automobiles to record technical vehicle and driver information that occurs in the moments before, during, and after a crash.

While you’ve likely never seen your vehicle’s EDR, it’s in most vehicles manufactured after the early 2000s. Your vehicle’s black box is often located under the passenger seat, driver’s seat, or center console of the car. You can likely find the information about your car’s EDR in your owner’s manual.

Recorded Data That May Help Your Case

Initially designed as a safety device, EDR systems can record various types of information about what happened to your vehicle surrounding the time of an event (any incident that includes impact). Vehicle manufacturers designed EDRs to use this information to determine how well the car’s safety system performed during an event. Today, the data is sometimes used in a legal cases surrounding a traffic accident.

Your car’s EDR system likely records the following information if you’re involved in a crash.

  • Vehicle speed
  • If brakes were applied
  • Seat belt use
  • Acceleration and deceleration speeds
  • The tilt of the vehicle
  • Steering angles
  • Force of impact
  • Airbag deployment times

Since the vehicle manufacturer installs EDR devices, some systems have additional capabilities, including determining if passengers were in the car and if the tires were properly inflated.

Some models even use GPS to track your location and pull video or audio from inside the vehicle. While your EDR records a wealth of valuable information, it’s important to remember that the recording only contains information beginning about 20 seconds before the crash. On-board data from a car accident can be a game-changer for a Houston car accident attorney.

Getting the computer data from the at-fault vehicle can establish facts and cut off defenses or excuses for the accident. Without the computer data, experts hired by the defense or even witnesses can estimate the speed. With proof of speed and evasive maneuvers like braking, or absence of braking, these facts can prevent defense lawyers or their retained experts from clouding liability.

Getting a car or truck accident lawyer to help before the vehicles are destroyed or repaired is imperative.

Preserving Important Evidence

After an accident, you understandably need to find transportation quickly. This means repairing or replacing your car. All too often, before the legal aspects of the accident are resolved, defendants repair or total the vehicle. This can lead to the loss of vital information.

Your EDR regularly erases data in time to allow new recordings to take place. Some devices begin erasing recorded information after 30 days to create space for more data. This means the data from your accident won’t last forever. Specific actions could cause your data to be erased before you even go to court.

For instance, your data may be reset when your vehicle is getting repaired. Additionally, if the vehicle in question is a company vehicle, EDR data belongs to the company. You may need a court order to get it, and the company may destroy the data before you had the opportunity to preserve it.

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you should contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your car’s black box data.

Accessing the Data

Accessing the data in your vehicle is subject to a specific process and Texas state laws. For the vehicle owner’s privacy, there are four reasons a third party can legally obtain the data from your vehicle’s black box.

  • With the owner’s consent
  • The use of a court order
  • To diagnose, service, or repair the vehicle
  • Vehicle safety research

Understandably, you’d be interested in the information your car’s black box must share in the aftermath of a vehicle accident, but trying to obtain the information yourself is a bad idea. Getting the black box data is standard in truck accident investigations.

Proper access to your car’s EDR information requires particular hardware, software, and a cable that safely connects to the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics port. Professional training is also necessary to interpret the car’s data.

Your personal injury lawyer can hire an expert to gather the data you need to help successfully prove your case. In Texas, there is a defense in the spoliation of evidence, if the defendant destroys the black box. . But the remedies are weak and ineffecutal.

Finding the Best Texas Car Accident Attorney for Your Case

The black box data from your vehicle can provide valuable information about your accident. Objective evidence from the EDR can be more reliable than accounts from eyewitnesses and traditional reconstruction techniques. Using the proper methods to obtain and interpret the data is vital for a reliable outcome.

An experienced auto accident attorney can help you get the professional assistance you need to ensure your black box data is preserved and properly obtained.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, finding the right personal injury attorney quickly is an essential step in gathering vital information to help prove details in your case. Memories fade, evidence gets worn away, and your black box data could be erased.

Retaining a lawyer quickly provides you with an opportunity to get an investigative team on your case right away. Legal orders can be obtained that will prevent your black box data from being erased, and additional evidence can be gathered as well.

Personal injury cases are designed to provide you with compensation for the cost of injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering resulting from your accident. No one deserves to suffer as a result of another driver’s carelessness on the road.

Retaining a qualified personal injury attorney with a record of success is the best way to ensure you’ll get the compensation you deserve. Best of all, the cost of getting the best car accident lawyer is no money upfront and is the same as most other lawyers.

Call Our Skilled Accident Attorneys

The Houston auto accident attorneys at Baumgartner Law Firm have a successful history in maximizing compensation for families who have suffered severe injuries and finding justice for losing a loved one.

We offer free, no-obligation consultations for personal injury and wrongful death accidents that happened in Texas. We only take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t get paid unless you do.

Contact us today for more information or schedule your consultation and take the first step toward getting the compensation you deserve.

Call 281-587-1111 or fill out the online case consultation request.




Greg Baumgartner

attorney greg baumgartner

Greg Baumgartner has practiced personal injury law since 1984. He holds not one but two law degrees and is a graduate of Trial Lawyers College. He is licensed in Texas and Colorado. Mr. Baumgartner has earned a reputation for exemplary results for his clients. And has been preeminent rated for decades and recognized by Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Expertise, Newsweek, Houstonia magazine, and many others. He has given educational talks to lawyers and many media interviews regarding personal injury cases.