What Is An Automobile Crash Event Data Recorder (EDR) and Why Is It Important?

Police reports and witness statements can significantly influence the outcome of a car accident case; however, eyewitness accounts are frequently riddled with inaccuracies or incomplete information. For example, research shows erroneous witness statements cause over 50% of false convictions.  Consequently, electronic evidence can be critical to refuting inaccurate testimony, establishing liability, and making a successful argument for maximum compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. But, this begs the question: “where can I get electronic evidence?”

Over 95% of new passenger vehicles are equipped with an event data recorder (“EDR”)

Most modern vehicles are equipped with a black box, called an event data recorder (“EDR”), that records critical vehicle information before, during, and after a crash.  While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) requires a minimum of 15 data points to be recorded by car crash EDRs, significantly more information is typically logged.

Unfortunately, insurance companies know that an EDR can make or break a case. If their client is likely responsible for a crash, they will often not hesitate to have a totaled vehicle destroyed shortly after the crash.  When the vehicle is destroyed, so too will be the EDR.

However, as a Virginia car accident attorney with decades of experience, Mark Hurt knows how to expeditiously seek court orders to prevent vehicle destruction and to access and download critical EDR evidence.  If you or a loved one suffered an injury in an auto accident, we urge you to call our office to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible so we can seek to protect vital EDR evidence.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire An Experienced Car Crash Lawyer or Event Data Recorder Attorney?

At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we represent car and truck crash victims on contingency, meaning we only charge a fee if we successfully recover compensation.  Further, we advance all litigation expenses while a case is ongoing (these are typically paid back from a settlement or jury award). Consequently, you will not have to worry about paying for court costs or other litigation expenses while you are recovering.

The facts of each vehicle crash are unique and can involve many different factors.  As an Abingdon car accident attorney with decades of experience, Mark Hurt represents clients involved in all types of vehicle crashes, including those resulting from being hit by:

  • Passenger vehicles (e.g., cars, trucks & SUVs)
  • Buses and other public transportation vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Drunk or drugged drivers
  • Commercial interstate trucks (e.g., 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, big rigs)
  • Commercial vans or vehicles (e.g., USPS, FedEx, and UPS drivers)
  • Rideshare drivers (e.g., Uber, Ola, Lyft drivers)

What Is An Event Data Recorder (EDR)?

After a collision, drivers and passengers may not fully recall all events, but data from an EDR can provide a reliable snapshot of what transpired during a severe car accident.  An event data recorder is a “black box” of sorts designed to record automobile and occupant data for a few seconds before, during, and after a car crash.  EDRs first appeared in the 1970s as a way for automobile manufacturers to monitor and improve airbag performance, but they later became an invaluable tool in accident reconstruction.

An EDR does not track data on an ongoing basis; instead, events such as airbag deployment or a sudden change in velocity will engage the device.  Once triggered, an EDR will record information such as (but not limited to):

  • Speed
  • Engine Throttle
  • Steering Wheel Angle
  • Engine RPM
  • Brake and Antilock Brake Activation
  • Ignition Cycle
  • Safety Belt Status
  • Seat Track Position
  • Airbag Deployment
  • Time of Airbag Deployment
  • Number of Crash Events
  • Time Between Crash Events
  • Occupant Size
  • Occupant Position

Can I Take Out Or Turn Off An EDR?

No.  The government is interested in preventing property damage, severe injuries, and fatalities related to car crashes on our nation’s highways.  EDRs provide researchers and investigators with better data from which to assess how vehicles perform during real-world crashes, allowing for the development of more effective vehicle safety programs.

Because EDRs are critical to public safety, federal law prohibits car dealerships and other commercial businesses from removing or disabling EDRs; however, individuals may still be able to self-disengage a recorder.  This is not advisable, however, because an EDR is an integral part of most airbag control systems; therefore, removing or turning off the component could disable or compromise a vehicle’s airbag system, making it significantly less safe.

Do All Vehicles Have EDRs?

No, EDRs are not legally mandated on all vehicles;  however, almost all newer cars and light trucks (~95%) come with some type of EDR installed.  Beginning in 2005, most car companies began placing statements in the vehicle owner’s manual indicating if an EDR is present.  Consequently, this is often the best way to confirm whether an EDR may be installed on a vehicle.

Is EDR Information Admissible In Court?

Regardless of the state, EDR evidence has been consistently accepted in civil litigation across the country.  Under Virginia law, recorded data can only be accessed with the consent of a motor vehicle’s owner (or a legal representative), except under the following circumstances:

  • The owner has a third-party subscription service that requires access to the EDR;
  • A licensed dealer, technician, or mechanic requires access to carry out normal and ordinary diagnosing, servicing, and repair duties;
  • The data is accessed by an emergency response provider;
  • Upon authority of a court of competent jurisdiction; or
  • The recorded data is accessed by police offices in the course of a constitutionally permissible investigation.

If a negligent driver refuses to provide consent to release EDR data, firm-founding attorney Mark Hurt can pursue a court order to access such valuable evidence.  However, if you don’t act fast, it may be possible for an insurance company to total a vehicle before a court order can be sought, destroying potentially critical EDR evidence.

Schedule A Free Consultation With An Experienced Event Data Recorder Lawyer Today!

Attorney Mark Hurt has recovered millions of dollars in compensation during his over two decades of legal practices.  If you suffered an injury caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless actions, call our office to schedule a free consultation with experienced truck and car accident attorney Mark Hurt.

Mark can evaluate the facts of your case, seek a court order for EDR evidence (when available), and fight tenaciously in seeking the maximum compensation possible from at-fault drivers and their insurance companies.

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