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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Event Data Recorder (EDR) Technology and Personal Injury Litigation

It is amazing to think about how far technology in automobiles has come over the years.  It may seem like ancient history, but there was a time when there was no way to make a telephone call while driving.  Then technology brought us large corded phones that you could pull out of little portable suitcases that could be carried into the car.  Now we keep our mobile device in our pocket and makes calls using our vehicle's operating system.  Automobiles now have lane departure detection technology, GPS tracking, cameras at all angles to assist with parking, and some vehicles can even operate the car for you.  One less talked about technological advance in automobiles that is having a big impact on personal injury claims and litigation is the Event Data Recorder (or EDR).

An Event Data Recorder is comparable to an airplane flight recorder (also known as the "black box").  It is a device that is installed in some automobiles to record information related to vehicle crashes or accidents.  EDRs are triggered by electronically sensed problems or faults in the engine, airbag deployment, and/or a sudden change in wheel speed or velocity.  One or more of these conditions may occur because of an accident.  Information that is obtained from an EDR device can be collected and analyzed after a crash to help determine what the vehicle was doing before, during, and after the crash.  

The EDR takes a snapshot of a certain event to aid crash investigators in reconstruction the accident and determining the most likely scenario on what caused the crash.  Some of the data pulled from these devices includes which occupants were buckled up for safety at the time of the accident or how many individuals were actually in the car at the time of the accident.  It can also include data about the inputs of the driver such as steering wheel direction, braking, and acceleration.  All of this information can help crash investigators or accident reconstructionists put together the sequence of events to help explain why the crash occurred.

Often times in a personal injury case there is a dispute as to who actually caused a car accident.  One party may say the other ran a stop sign or was speeding and that was the reason for the crash.  More often than not, no eye witnesses to the accident come forward meaning the parties are left in a "he said, she said" deadlock.  That is where an Event Data Recorder can come into play and have a drastic impact on an accident.  Instead of just having the accounts of the parties involved in the crash, there is no a technological database that can provide invaluable insight into what actually happened.

Think of the case where a vehicle is rear-ended.  The EDR device can provide information as to whether or not the driver that rear-ended the other vehicle was traveling over the speed limit and/or whether the other driver hit his or her brakes and, if so, how many seconds did he or she hit the brakes prior to the crash.  In cases where there is a crash caused at a four way stop, the EDR can provide information as to whether or not a vehicle came to a full stop before the accident; how quickly the vehicle accelerated into the intersection; and the rate of speed the vehicle was going at the time of impact.  The EDR device can fill in the gaps of otherwise unknown factors involved in automobile accidents.

The impact of this technology on a personal injury case is huge and is only growing as more and more vehicles are equipped with EDR devices.  If your memory of the event does not align with the information pulled from the EDR device, an experienced attorney will suggest that you were either lying when you described how the accident occurred or your memory is clearly not reliable.  Neither scenario will help you in a personal injury claim, whether you are the plaintiff bringing the claim or the defendant defending the claim.

It was always important to be truthful when describing the causes of an accident, but not technology has provided a digital "tattletale" that will not hesitate to dispute your story.  This is important to understand when speaking with your attorney, a claims adjuster, the other driver(s) involved in the accident, an accident reconstructionist, or the police.

If you have any questions about EDR technology or personal injury claims, please feel free to contact the Law Offices of Samuel S. Reidy.

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