Indianapolis Auto Accident Attorney Discusses the Little Black Box and Auto Accidents

We all know that Jets have a “Black Box” that is the subject of intense searching after any plane crash.  The reason for the “black box” search is because the “black box” is a data recorder.  It records information about the operation of the jet and its pilots and can help investigators reconstruct the events leading up to a crash and will, hopefully, assist investigators in figuring out what happened.  Fewer people know that all modern cars are equipped with a “black box” or more particularly a data recorder.  In automobile crashes causing serious personal injury, the data recording device may be the difference between knowing what actually happened in the crash and what witnesses say happened in the crash.

In my line of work as a auto accident attorney, we know that eye witness accounts of a collision often vary greatly about what happened in the car accident. Scientific studies.     Barbara Tversky, in her article “The Problem with Eyewitness Testimony”, Stanford Journal of Legal Studies, April 1999, observed, “The mere fault of being human results in distorted memory and inaccurate testimony.”  We humans are subject to memory bias and the introduction of false memories which interfere with our ability to accurately remember and repeat exactly what we have seen. So, what can be done about this problem?  Retrieve the information from the data recording device for the cars, or trucks involved in the collision.

Modern automobile data recording devices record up to 20 seconds of information before any crash.  The data recorded can include whether the passengers of the car were wearing seatbelts, the car speed at any point in that 20 seconds, the acceleration of the car in that 20 seconds, the percent of the engine throttle and gas pedal, when the brakes were activated, when the antilock braking device was activated and more. This information is very important, but any accident expert worth their salt will collect all the objective evidence at the scene of the car crash and compare it to the data on the recording device.  The objective evidence includes the damage to each car, the final resting place of the cars after the impact, the direction the cars went upon impact, and other information.  When the “black box” data matches up with the objective evidence at the scene of the collision the jury can be very confident that the data recording device is telling the accurate story about what happened in the crash.  This is very important when eyewitnesses give contradicting versions of what happened.

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