Your Car May Have an Event Data Recorder – Will It Help or Hurt Your Case?

An Event Data Recorder (EDR) is similar to the black box recorders used in aircraft. However, the device, although it serves essentially the same purpose, does not record the same kind of events as its airborne counterpart. An EDR is essentially designed with two datasets in mind. The first dataset concerns the vehicle and how mechanisms – especially those which play a part in performance and safety – respond during a crash. The second purpose of an EDR is to record data which relates to the driver; including the driver’s weight; vehicle speed leading up to and during a crash; whether the driver was wearing a seatbelt or not, and the driver’s general reaction times while driving.  Depending on the capabilities of the EDR, the device may also record additional information. However, if you want to retrieve the information stored on an EDR, it could cost you upwards of 7,000 dollars.

Weighing the Benefits

Given that Event Data Recorders can capture large amounts of real time, accurate data, they are increasingly being used as evidence in civil traffic disputes. The data captured from an EDR can greatly change the direction of a dispute, should either party’s account of what happened significantly differ from the events recorded by the EDR. In some cases, the data taken from an EDR is not admissible, due to corruption of the files, failure to record, or damage incurred during a crash. However, if there are two or more vehicles involved and more than one of the vehicles have on-board EDRs, the likelihood of the data being consistent is obviously increased. When it comes to either defending or making a claim in relation to a motor vehicle accident, none of the parties have access to the data stored on any of the EDRs. Furthermore, paying to access data on an EDR may actually exceed the cost of damages to a person or vehicle.

EDR Cons

EDRs are not infallible. If you are making a claim and are mostly relying on an EDR for evidence that you are the injured party, it could backfire on you. Not only can an EDR fail to record events, it can also return inaccurate data. Any inaccuracy, that involves what actually happened and when, can completely change the perceived chain of events in the eyes of a claims handler or judge.  When an EDR is functioning at optimal levels, it is an unbiased source of information. While it is human nature to sculpt the truth to fit preconceived narratives, an inanimate recording device receives and outputs data indiscriminately.  

EDR Pros

While it is true that an EDR can fail completely or produce erroneous data, the technology is designed with system failures in mind. Using digital footprints, which establish a timeline of events, a qualified technician can determine the reliability of the data recorded by the EDR. As already mentioned, if consistent data from more than a single EDR is introduced as evidence, it is likely to strengthen the case for the party who is able to demonstrate that he or she was not at fault. Given the nature of traffic accidents, it is understandable that some – if not all – parties will have poor recollection of the events. An EDR helps take the onus of the injured parties; allowing the court to piece together what happened from the data gathered from the recording device. EDRs have been successfully used to win cases, where one involved party has made claims which are inconsistent with recorded data. The financial implication of extracting data from an EDR is also an unattractive proposition for anyone fighting a personal injury claim.

An EDR can benefit your case so long as you are honest about the data that is likely to be retrieved from the device. As a plaintiff, you should always rely on the body of evidence in your favor. However, if any of the vehicles is carrying an EDR, it is important to consider how the data on the device will impact upon your case. It is up to you, and your representatives, to ensure that the data does not damage your case.

Essentially, an EDR keeps everyone honest. The fact that neither of the parties are able to manipulate the data is a good thing. Think of it like DNA evidence being introduced in the final hour. So long as it is sound, an EDR provides evidence which is extremely difficult to dispute. Regardless, this device is the future of motor vehicle litigation and not something to be dismissed without serious consideration.

The experienced attorneys at Greening Law can help you sort through these types of questions and develop the most beneficial strategy for your case. Give us call today.