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Motor vehicle black box (i.e. event data recorder) and their effect on litigation

Previously on our blog, we explored the effect that video footage from motor vehicle dash cams may have on litigation.  In continuing with our discussion of new technology and their effect on litigation, this first part of a 2-part blog will explore the effect that data from black boxes (otherwise known as event data recorders) can have on litigation.

Contrary to what the general public may believe, use of black boxes in motor vehicles is nothing new.  In fact, black boxes have been used in motor vehicles as far back as 1994 when car manufacturers, such as Chevrolet and Pontiac, installed such devices to help them learn how their cars performed in motor vehicle accidents.  In its earliest incarnation, motor vehicle black boxes recorded very little information other than the moment in time when an airbag went off.  Modern-day black boxes, however, can record much more information, such as the moment the airbag went off, the number of impacts in an accident and the direction of each impact, the speed at the time of impact, whether the vehicle was accelerating or decelerating at the time of impact, whether the brakes were engaged at the time of impact, the angle of rotation of the steering wheel at the time of impact, whether the vehicle’s headlights were on, and whether any of the seatbelts were in use, just to name a few.  In fact, black box data has been used in modern-day cases to prove and disprove liability.  It has also been used by authorities to investigate car crashes.  For instance, Lt. Governor Tim Murray of Massachusetts crashed a government-owned vehicle in November 2011.  He claimed that he simply lost control of the vehicle due to ice on the roads, that he was wearing his seatbelt, and that he was not speeding.  The black box data retrieved from the government-owned vehicle, however, revealed that, at the time of the accident, the vehicle was traveling at 108 miles per hour and was still accelerating, and that Lt. Governor Murray was not wearing his seatbelt.

As noted above, the sophistication of today’s technology, such as motor vehicle black boxes, is already having an impact on litigation.  It has been used to prove and disprove liability and, so much so, that the ownership of the black box data is sure to become a hot issue in the State of Florida.  Stay tuned for our next blog, where we discuss issues related to such ownership.

In the meantime, join Rights & Repairs live on Monday, November 14, 2016, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., on Moneytalk 1010 with Legal Expert, Gregory J. Perenich of PERENICH the Law Firm, and Auto Expert, Dan Cooley of Collisiontec.  Greg and Dan will feature special guest, Bryan Ballew of Mobile Diagnostics and Programming, LLC. Bryan is an expert in the area of “black box” / event data recording (EDR). Greg, Dan, and Bryan will discuss electronically stored information within these devices, which can be found in virtually all modern motor vehicles, and how it can benefit in demonstrating liability for car accidents through the use of information such as the type and degree of forces to the vehicles and occupants.

Listen to Greg, Dan, and Bryan live and call 1-888-404-1010 with your comments and questions.

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