Mandatory Black Box for Cars: Impact on Injury Litigation

Black box for carsA new NHTSA rule requires all light passenger vehicles to be equipped with an Event Data Recorder (EDR) by Sep.1, 2014.   Most new cars already have them – measuring such inputs as speed, lateral acceleration, pedal effort, seat belt use, wheel spin, steering wheel turn and direction.  Supporters state that the data collected from these boxes could provide more information regarding car use and safety in a single day than could be collected through years of crash testing.  Even with the good which could be accomplished through this mode of data collection, the opportunity for misuse and hacking will be ever-present.

The proposed federal rule that would require black boxes or event data recorders (EDRs) in every U.S. automobile will also make personal injury litigation tougher because in even clear liability cases where someone is involved in a collision while lawfully operating their vehicle, the “big brother” aspect of the black box will be used by the defense attorney to assign comparative fault to the injured driver.  In a manner similar to the comparative fault assigned now to a driver who fails to wear a seatbelt which results in an automatic 5% reduction of potential reimbursement of medical bills at trial, if according to the EDR the injured driver was exceeding the speed limit by even five miles per hour their claim could be reduced by that comparative fault.  Issues regarding potential tampering, hacking, and malfunction of the event data recording device will also impact the litigation of these claims.

The advent of a new technology of any type will take years to adjust to, and the insurance companies have billions of dollars at their disposal to steer legislation and regulations to favor their position on denying claims and limiting payments to injury victims.   We have relied on eye-witness testimony for so long it is hard to imagine that a black box will replace eye witness testimony — but like it or not, we have to adjust to it.   I agree that data recorders can assist us in screening our cases better, and may even assist in getting better recoveries for some cases.    However, there are many collisions that involve some slight discrepancy of our client, and the black box could be used against them, where an eye-witness would not be able to substantiate any fault to our client.    In the end, it will require us to be more careful in what cases we accept.

Morgantown Car Accident Attorneys

If you or your loved one has been injured, it is important to act quickly to protect your claim in order to gain the compensation needed to help you move forward with your recovery and your life.  Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now.

If you have questions, call Jeff Robinette today at 304-594-1800.  You may also visit our website to find the answers you need today.  You don’t have to handle this alone.

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