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How Black Boxes Can Help You In a Bowling Green Car Accident

December 20, 2021 By Flora Templeton Stuart

You have probably heard about a black box in an airplane, especially after a crash. But the question is, what is a black box, and does your car have one?

A black box is also known as an Event Data Recorder, EDR. Black boxes have been in use since 1994, but they became common in the United States in the mid-2000s, with all cars sold after this period containing the equipment. The equipment is an integral part of an accident investigation process as it efficiently records valuable information moments before a collision. In serious injury cases, Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers downloads the black boxes for evidence crucial to winning the case.

What’s In This Article:

What’s Your Car’s Black Box?

The black box stores data to flash memory in the airbag control module, ACM. The ACM senses a developing collision and determines whether to deploy safety devices. Different vehicle manufacturers use different names for the ACM, with General Motors using Sensing Diagnostic Module, SDM, and Fiat-Chrysler using Occupant Restraint Controller, ORC. Recording crash data is the secondary function of the ACM.

The amount and the type of data stored in the EDR vary depending on the manufacturer. But on August 28, 2006, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards established the minimum parameters that must be recorded in every black box. These include:

  • Vehicle indicated speed
  • Ignition cycles (crash)
  • Ignition cycles (download)
  • Brake status (ON/OFF)
  • Lateral and Longitudinal Delta-V shaped
  • Engine Throttle Ignition

In addition, the rule also sets the standard for 30 other data types if the manufacturers choose to include them in their EDRs voluntarily. For insurance, if the manufacturer configures the EDR to record the steering input, the EDR should record 5 seconds of data sampled twice per second.

How an EDR Determines Fault in Your Vehicle Accident in Bowling Green

If involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustain serious injuries, you are entitled to compensation for your loss. However, you need to prove that someone else was responsible for the crash. Proving liability is not an easy process, especially if the other party refuses to admit fault or there were no witnesses or CCTV cameras nearby to shed some light on the cause of the accident.

Fortunately, if your vehicle is equipped with an Event Data Recorder, you can retrieve the information to see the driving data right up to the time of the crash. Our Bowling Green KY Personal Injury Law will help investigate the black box information by collecting the data contained in your EDR. The attorney will then use the data to reconstruct the accident. That’s why you must contact a personal injury attorney right after a car accident in Bowling Green.

The attorney uses the data collected by the EDR to determine who was at fault for the accident. The information can help in determining:

  • The number of people in the vehicle at the time of the accident
  • The behavior of the occupants, such as those who were wearing a seatbelt and who wasn’t
  • Speed of the car before the crash
  • Whether you tried to brake or swerve out the way before the accident
  • How fast another motorist was driving before the crash and how long it took them to hit the brakes

Once the crash investigator accesses this data, they can create a sequence of events that explain why a crash occurred.

How a Black Box Works

You can tell if your car has a black box by looking at the owner’s manual. The EDR is a small black piece of equipment that’s the size of an iPod and is placed under the front row seats. In most vehicles, it’s placed under the driver’s seat or the central console. It’s then connected to the airbag system and used to collect two types of information:

Deployment event data- this includes the information collected in case of airbag deployment. Deployment event data includes the pre-crash and crash information and some post-crash information depending on the crash’s impact. The information is readily available after the crash as it’s never overridden after the impact.

Non-deployment event record- the EDR records all data about a crash that didn’t lead to the airbag’s deployment. It includes both pre-crash and post-crash information. However, the data is erased after 250 ignition cycles.

Accessing EDR Data

If you are involved in a car accident that leads to severe injuries, you need to retrieve the black box data to help you with proving liability. However, the black box data retrieval process is not easy, and that’s why many people rarely use it despite being useful in proving liability.

The cost of accessing and retrieving the data depends on your car’s black box model. In addition, you will need the help of a crash data retrieval technician to help you retrieve the black box information. The technician uses special equipment to connect to your vehicle’s black box to communicate with it and collect the stored data. At Flora Templeton Stuart, we hire local Bowling Green accident reconstructionists to download the black box data for all vehicles involved in the collision.

Who Is the Legal Owner of the Black Box’s Information?

The Driver Policy Act of 2015 makes you, the car owner or lessee, the legal owner of the black box information. You, therefore, have the right to give or deny permission to access the EDR and its data to an investigator.

However, if someone comes with a court order, there isn’t much you can do to prevent them from accessing and using the data since KY has no limitations for EDR data access. That said, an investigator can only access the EDR data if:

  • They are conducting traffic safety research
  • Authorized by the judiciary to do so
  • Has a recorded or written consent with you
  • Requires the data to offer medical care to a person injured during the crash
  • Has federal authorization to access or investigate the data

Can Black Box Data Be Used Against You?

While you hold the sole ownership of the EDR and the data it contains, there are instances that the insurance company or attorney can use it against you. Investigators and the police require a warrant to access the data, but insurance companies are an entirely different story.

When you buy insurance coverage for your vehicle, there’s a clause that states that you will cooperate and assist in settling claims. That one clause gives the insurance company the right to access and use the data collected by the EDR.

If you are involved in a crash and send your vehicle for repair with the insurance company, the insurer will use a skilled technician to access the information assuming that you don’t know it exists.

If the impact didn’t cause airbag deployment, they will override it and ruin any chances of using it to make your claim. The jury or the judge residing in your case will perceive overwritten data as a sign of guilt.

However, you can prevent this from happening by acting fast. Instead of reaching out to your insurance company after the crash, consider contacting an experienced car accident attorney. The attorney will use an expert analyst to access and interpret the data in your EDR to get a better picture of the crush, and they will then use this information to prove who was at fault.

Let’s Help You

flora templeton stuartIf you get involved in a car accident in Bowling Green, KY, which you are sure are not at fault; you can depend on the black box data to prove your innocence.

Contact us after the crash, and our team of professional attorneys will stop any chances by the insurance from misusing and destroying the black box data. We use expert data retrieval technicians to access, interpret, and preserve the EDR data. If your case goes to court, we will use the data to prove the other person’s liability. At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, we will preserve the evidence with 46+ years of experience. Our Bowling Green team of experts will preserve black box evidence.

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Author Photo

Flora Templeton Stuart

Flora Templeton Stuart is the lead attorney and founder of the law firm Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, established in 1976. Flora goes to work every day to make a difference in her community and the lives of her clients. When you call you will get a personal representation and an attorney who truly cares.