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What is a Black Box and How Can it Impact my Accident Case?

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Newer cars in the U.S. today and commercial vehicles have event recorders or event data recorders, also known as black boxes. The information they provide is vital in many personal injury lawsuits.

Event data recorders

Black box data can aid serious injury car and commercial vehicle accident investigations.

Better, the information available can cut off some claims and defenses, making it easier to prove your case.

What is a Car or Truck “Black Box” (Event Data Recorder)?

The term black box describes an onboard computer, also called an event data” recorder, which records data for big rig crashes. Truck accident investigations include getting the computer file from the semi-truck and looking closely at the data from the onboard computer.

The most significant change in the last twenty years in the liability part of car accident lawsuits has been the introduction of the onboard computer for many passenger cars. Automobile injury attorneys use the evidence to win cases.

Before “black boxes” or computers in many popular models of passenger cars, the speed and braking of the vehicles were determined by accident reconstruction experts who gathered facts related to the accident to come up with an opinion as to the speed of the cars.

The reconstruction experts would typically look at skid marks, the makeup of the roadway, and crush measurements to arrive at a statistically accurate range of speeds for the vehicles. While the accident reconstruction expert’s opinions often varied as to speed, that is not the case due to event data recorders.

The best personal injury lawyers always seek to obtain crash data after a severe injury or fatal crash. Such data can be hard to refute in a wrongful death case.

You May Need Help Getting the Data

Onboard computers have changed the game. How fast they were going for passenger cars equipped with data recorders is no longer disputed. Many manufacturers’ computer data is downloadable from the wrecked vehicle; others are more difficult to obtain.

We hope that the Department of Transportation will work with manufacturers to provide onboard computer data to everyone. Usually, it takes an accident reconstruction expert to download the computer data for interpretation. Truck accident investigations always include black box data.

What the Event Data Recorder Shows

If available, the onboard computer can show speed immediately before an accident, braking activity, and even if the driver had their seatbelt on and other relevant information. Onboard computers have been invaluable in commercial vehicle accident litigation for some time, and now the same information is available for car-to-car accidents.

The event recorders were developed to deal with aircraft accidents and later adapted to monitor automobile airbags.

Today, however, event data recorders capture much information on newer model cars, such as braking, seat belt use, speed, and other information just before impact. Truck accident attorneys find computer data helpful in proving speed and evasive maneuvers after a wreck. This data is especially helpful with serious accident cases and also useful with passenger car crashes.

Evidence from a download of an EVD can speed up settlements by cutting off defenses.

Which Cars and Trucks Have Black Boxes?

The NSTSA developed a rule requiring that specific information must be collected if an event data recorder is part of the car or pickup truck. However, older cars, trucks, and 18-wheelers may not have event data capability, but most newer models do.

In auto accidents and truck wrecks, event data provides beneficial information when it is accessible by authorities or by accident lawyers either on the plaintiff’s side or the defense.

Many accident reenactment experts can download event data on most cars and trucks. And the information captured just before impact is tough to dispute credibly.

What Information Does the Black Box Record?

Some of the vital information on the computer data captured in an investigation after an accident include:

  1. Speed
  2. Braking activity and
  3. Seatbelt use.
  4. Evasive actions.

Accident Reconstruction Experts Still May Be Needed

Reconstruction experts may still be needed to explain the black box data and connect the dots between the two vehicles for a jury. However, the variables of speed and other data measured have been changed with the computer data so commonly available today.

If you have been hurt in an accident with a big truck, you may wonder, “Do I need an 18-wheeler accident attorney? Yes, if your injuries were significant!

It is helpful as a car accident happens unexpectedly in a matter of split seconds, and it is sometimes difficult for the injury victim to recall what happened in the crash if they survived.

Often, the police crash report did not have the benefit of the event data recorder. Or the crash is fatal, and the driver is not around to tell his story. Best of all, it is hard to dispute the data captured by the black box.

Preservation of the Black Box is Critical

Often, after an accident, the onboard computer data must be preserved. Retaining an experienced truck accident attorney after an 18-wheeler accident should be done early. All modern vehicles now have Event Data Recorders. Getting a car accident lawyer with a severe injury accident is recommended as soon as possible.

No Charge for Lawyer Consultations

Call the personal injury lawyers in Houston, TX at Baumgartner Law Firm, for a consultation after a severe injury or wrongful death accident. There is never a charge for the consultation. Call (281) 587-1111!

Baumgartner Law Firm

6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069

(281) 587-1111


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