Black Box Data

The term “black box” generally refers to an electronic device that monitors and stores information about vehicle operation, including the operation before, during, and after a collision. The black box resides in the vehicle’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU), which controls the air bags. Black boxes are formally referred to as “crash data recorders” (CDRs) or “event data recorders” (EDRs).

Most vehicles are now equipped with EDRs, which record and provide a variety of information. The specific information recorded depends upon the vehicle manufacturer, but often includes information concerning speed, brake use, seat belt use, and the time of air bag deployment. In addition to being used in cars and trucks, EDR usage in planes and trains has been longstanding.

Several manufacturers now use these black boxes voluntarily. Generally, if a vehicle is equipped with an air bag, important crash information likely is recorded.

Black Box Information

Black boxes do not provide written information as to exactly what was occurring at the time of an accident.  Instead, their information is stored in binary code (as sequences of zeroes and ones).  As a result, it’s important that a technician be hired in order to understand the black box data.  Experienced technicians can also be valuable for providing information concerning the validity of black box data, as often events can occur or other matters that may exist that affect the accuracy of the data.  This experience is crucial when defendants try to exclude black box evidence at trial.

Preserving Black Box Information

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in the St. Louis area, please call our firm immediately so that we can act promptly to preserve the vehicle’s black box and the information it contains, particularly as black box ownership issues often can play a part in litigation.  It is critical to prevent black box data from being destroyed, and to ensure that evidence is properly collected during the black box download process.

Defendants have been known to download the data quickly and without the car accident victim’s consent. To avoid this from occurring, we will file a motion for a temporary restraining order for black box data if necessary to preserve this evidence. As your attorney, I can then ask the defendant’s lawyer for a joint inspection of the vehicle, with an expert hired on your behalf present. This is an effective way to preserve the data and to prevent the potential destruction of key evidence.

I can also direct opposing counsel and all parties that may have custody of the vehicle (the towing company, insurance company, auto repair shop, and the like) not to move or repair the vehicle, remove its black boxes, or retrieve or attempt to retrieve the black box data. This ensures an unbroken chain of custody for the automobile data recorder and the data it contains. Your case may suffer if this data is compromised or destroyed.

Experienced Legal Counsel Can Be Important in Winning a Personal Injury Case

Insurance companies and defendants can be expected to work hard to avoid liability.  You need someone with experience who will work tenaciously on your behalf.

With more than twenty years of trial experience, I will take on those responsible or liable for your injuries, which may include insurance companies, big automobile manufacturers, and the makers of defective products.

Call me so that I can meet with you for a free, no obligation private consultation.  If our firm is retained, we will represent you on a contingency fee basis – no fees are owed to us unless we win for you.


16020 Swingley Ridge Rd., Suite 340
St. Louis, MO 63017

Contact Us 888.586.7041

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