Black Boxes in Vehicles Could be of Use in Illinois Car Accident Lawsuits

Raise your hand if you are familiar with those black boxes that have become standard inside United States airliners. If you actually raised your hand, keep in mind that I can’t see it, but I have some interesting news for you. For those of you who don’t know what a ‘black box’ is, it is also known as an ‘Event Data Recorder’ or ERD, and it’s job is to record the events leading up to an accident in order to understand its cause. Believe it or not, the vast majority of new cars being sold in the United States are being fitted with them, and this could give judges a new piece of evidence in personal injury lawsuits in Illinois.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new stipulations will make EDRs mandatory in all “cars and trucks that are required to have front airbags” starting on September 1st of next year. Our attorneys read that the black boxes will be responsible for collecting specific information in the minutes before a car accident such as:
• Vehicle Speed • Engine Throttle Position
• Brake Usage
• Driver Safety Seat Belt Information • Air Bag Warning Lamp Information • Velocity Changes

Once a car accident is detected by the EDR, at least five seconds of data will be recorded and “locked” for use in the crash investigation. While the NHTSA has stated that its official policy is to “treat EDR data as the property of the vehicle owner,” Many critics have called for specific language in both the owners manual and regulations that allow data from these black boxes to remain private except in the case of the owner’s consent to do otherwise. Other concerns have been voiced about the need for specific guidelines that specifies the amount of data that can be “locked” prior to an accident. As they have done in the past, the NHTSA has made their proposal open to public comment, which is due by next Monday, so if you have concerns feel free to voice them. (Electric Frontier)

Whether you support the use of these black boxes or think they go too far is up to you. However, the presence of devices such as these reminds us of the unfortunate reality that car accidents happen every day, and it is essential to have a plan for addressing what comes afterwards. Our lawyers have a wealth of experience providing counsel to victims of Illinois car accidents, and have had great success compensating our clients for their misfortunes. In a notable case, our attorneys recovered a $6.5 million Kane County trucking accident settlement for the family of a woman who was killed after her vehicle was rear-ended by a semi-truck.

Our lawyers are passionate about what they do, and if you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligent or reckless actions of another person, we are here to help.

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