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What Is an Event Data Recorder (EDR) and How Can It Help Prove Fault?

on  Car Accidents

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. The physical pain, emotional trauma, and financial burden of medical bills and lost wages can be incredibly stressful. During this challenging time, it’s essential to gather as much evidence as possible to support your case and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. 

One crucial piece of evidence that can help support your case is the data from your vehicle’s Event Data Recorder (EDR). But what is an EDR, how does it work, and how can it strengthen your car accident claim?

An Event Data Recorder, or EDR, is an onboard device installed in many modern vehicles that records data in the moments leading up to, during, and after a crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), EDRs are installed in over 99% of new passenger vehicles. This data can provide valuable insights into what happened during an accident and help determine fault and liability.

What is an Event Data Recorder (EDR)?

An Event Data Recorder is essentially a “black box” for your car. It’s a small device, typically located under the driver’s seat or in the center console, that continuously records data about your vehicle’s performance and operation. When a crash occurs, the EDR saves a data snapshot from the moments just before, during, and after the impact.

EDRs can record a variety of data points, including:

  • Vehicle speed
  • Brake application
  • Throttle position
  • Seatbelt use
  • Airbag deployment
  • Force of impact

This data is recorded in a loop. New data continuously overwrites older data until a crash event occurs. At that point, the EDR saves the relevant data for a specific period (usually 5-20 seconds before and after the crash).

Federal law regulates the use of EDRs. The NHTSA has established standards for the data that EDRs must record and how that data can be accessed. In most cases, the vehicle’s owner or lessee has control over the EDR data and must give consent for it to be accessed by third parties.

How Can EDR Data Help After an Accident?

If you suffered an injury in a car accident, your vehicle’s EDR data can be a powerful tool in supporting your legal case and insurance claim. Here’s how:

1. Provide objective evidence of what happened during the crash

Eyewitness accounts of an accident can be unreliable and conflicting. EDR data, however, provides an objective record of what happened in the moments leading up to and during the crash. This data can help establish key facts about the accident, such as how fast the vehicles traveled, whether brakes were applied, and whether seat belts were used.

2. Help determine fault and liability

In many car accident cases, fault and liability are contested issues. Both sides may argue that the other driver was responsible for causing the crash. EDR data can help cut through the noise and provide clear evidence of what really happened. For example, if the other driver claims they weren’t speeding, but your EDR data shows they were traveling well above the speed limit at the time of impact, this can be strong evidence supporting your case.

To successfully pursue a car accident claim, you’ll need evidence to support your version of events and demonstrate the extent of your damages. EDR data can be valuable in bolstering your case, especially if liability is disputed. By presenting EDR data showing the other driver was at fault, you may obtain a larger settlement or award.

4. Assist in accident reconstruction and investigation

After a serious auto accident, your attorney may bring in experts to reconstruct how the crash occurred and determine who was at fault. EDR data can play an important role in these investigations by providing details about vehicle dynamics that can’t be obtained from physical evidence alone. This information helps create a more complete and detailed picture of the accident unfolding.

Accessing and Using EDR Data

Now that we’ve explored how EDR data can help after an accident, you may be wondering how this data is accessed and used in a legal case. 

In general, there are three ways an agency or attorney can obtain EDR data:

1. By the vehicle owner/lessee themselves

2. With consent of the owner/lessee

3. Via a court order

In most cases, you, as the vehicle owner or lessee, will have control over the EDR data from your vehicle. Law enforcement or insurance companies may be able to access this data with your consent. Sometimes, a court order may be necessary to obtain EDR data.

You must act quickly to preserve EDR data after an accident. Most EDRs only store data for a limited period, typically 30-60 days, before it gets overwritten. An experienced car accident attorney can help you take the necessary steps to access and preserve this crucial evidence.

Information on Preserving Crucial Evidence, Including EDR Data

Preserving evidence is paramount to the success of your car accident claim, including the data from your vehicle’s Event Data Recorder (EDR). Here’s what you need to know:

  • Call an Accident Lawyer: Contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash. They can help you navigate the process of obtaining and preserving EDR data.
  • Call Your Insurance Company: Notify your insurance company that you intend to access and preserve the EDR data from your vehicle.
  • Send Spoliation Letter: Work with your attorney to send a spoliation letter to the other vehicle’s owner and their insurance carrier, putting them on notice to preserve any evidence of the accident, including EDR data from their insured’s vehicle.
  • Preserve EDR Data: Arrange for a qualified technician to download and preserve the EDR data from your vehicle. Your lawyer can help facilitate this process.

By taking swift action to preserve the EDR data from your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle, you can ensure that this valuable evidence supports your car accident claim and helps you recover the compensation you deserve.

What Happens If The Other Driver Doesn’t Save EDR Data?

If the other driver or their insurance company fails to preserve EDR data after being notified to do so, it can have significant consequences for your car accident claim. This failure is known as spoliation of evidence, which refers to the destruction, alteration, or failure to preserve evidence relevant to a legal case. If the other driver or their insurer fails to preserve EDR data after receiving a spoliation letter, they may be guilty of destruction of evidence.

Courts take spoliation of evidence very seriously, as it can hinder a party’s ability to prove their case. If the court finds that the other driver or their insurance company intentionally or negligently destroyed or failed to preserve EDR data, it may impose sanctions, such as monetary fines, adverse jury instructions (instructing the jury to assume the destroyed evidence was unfavorable to the spoliating party), or even a default judgment in your favor.

If the other driver does not preserve their EDR data, proving fault and liability in your car accident claim can make it more challenging. However, the fact that the other party failed to preserve this evidence after being put on notice can work in your favor. Your attorney can argue that the failure to preserve EDR data raises a presumption that the evidence would have been unfavorable to the other driver, strengthening your case.

It’s essential to act quickly after an accident to protect your rights and preserve crucial evidence. Consult with an experienced Miami car accident attorney as soon as possible so they can take steps to ensure the preservation of EDR data and other relevant evidence. Promptly notifying the other driver and their insurance company of your intent to access and preserve EDR data can help prevent spoliation and safeguard this valuable evidence.

Contact Our Lawyers Today

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Florida, don’t overlook the importance of EDR data in building your case. This objective record of what happened before, during, and after the crash can provide powerful evidence to support your claim and help you get the compensation you deserve.

At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA., our experienced car accident attorneys know how to access and use EDR data to strengthen our clients’ cases. If you’ve been hurt in a crash, don’t wait – contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll review your case, explain your rights, and fight to get you every dollar you’re owed.

Prosper Shaked can help you collect the evidence to win your claim. Call (305) 694-2676 today for a free consultation.