Black Box Data Isn’t Just For Plane Crashes

“Black boxes” are not just in airplanes and they may just save you from being blamed for a collision that is not your fault. Modern vehicles have the technology to supply a variety of information about the moments before an accident.  This data can often help establish liability following a collision.  It is important to have an attorney that not only understands the data, but takes the steps to retrieve the date when necessary.

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 case surrounding a motor vehicle collision.

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 an experience car wreck 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 from 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 wreck lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your car’s black box data and that of the other involved party.

Accessing the Data

Accessing the data in your vehicle is subject to a specific process and 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 repairing 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 unachievable.

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.

A good lawyer will take the steps to get an experienced expert to retrieve the information.

Finding the Best Texas Car Accident Attorney for Your Case

The black box data from your vehicle can provide valuable information about your collision. 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 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.


Our firm understands the repercussions of a serious accident. If you are injured due to another party’s negligence, you should not have to fight the uphill battle for compensation on your own. When you hire Ferrell & Brown, you are hiring a devoted, caring, and aggressive team who will tenaciously fight for you. If you or someone you know was injured in a wreck and wishes to schedule a consultation, please do not hesitate to contact Ferrell & Brown.

Welcome to Ferrell & Brown, PLLC, where senior cases meet seasoned attorneys. Our legal professionals bring decades of experience, offering unparalleled services.




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