Effective last September, all new passenger vehicles sold in San Antonio and around the country must have an Event Data Recorder. These “black boxes” record vital information, so they can give an accurate statistical profile of the events immediately prior to a “Crash”. But, unless an attorney acts quickly, this important evidence may be “Gone with the Wind.”
Black boxes have been standard equipment in airplanes for a number of decades. The trucking industry has resisted calls to make these devices mandatory, citing the installation costs. But vehicle manufacturers are all too happy to pass the cost along to consumers.
While earlier versions of the EDR only recorded a few facts, such as whether or not the air bags deployed, the latest back boxes measure and record much more information, including:
- Brake application;
- Steering angle;
- Seat belt use; and
- Certain mechanical conditions.
Individual models vary, but most black boxes store about five to seven seconds’ worth of data.
At least one prominent auto insurance company already uses such devices to set premium amounts. As for car wreck cases, at the rate technology is advancing, jurors are almost certain to give this statistical evidence greater weight than eyewitness testimony.
Aside from privacy concerns, there are some very important legal implications in the use of these EDRs. In Texas, a person must normally have a court order to access the black box. Local attorneys, who know the judges and the courts, are well-positioned to quickly obtain such an order, analyze the EDR’s contents, and use them to benefit their clients.
A court order, however, may not be enough. Especially when the vehicles are totaled, many insurance companies order them to be destroyed in a matter of days. When the vehicle is destroyed, the black box may be lost forever. Attorneys can send a spoliation letter which directs the recipient to preserve any evidence. If an insurance company ignores such a letter and destroys the black boxes anyway, it may face stiff repercussions from the judge, not to mention the ire of jurors who may believe that the company destroyed evidence, perhaps even intentionally.
With the advent of electronic evidence, it is more important to partner with an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to obtain maximum compensation.