Will black boxes change the face of car accident litigation?

Although certain driving behaviors may raise a presumption of fault, a plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit must still prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. Launching an aggressive lawsuit that requires accident reconstruction, eyewitness testimony, and even expert testimony may be the last thing that a surviving loved one wants to face. Fortunately, technology may soon be able to help.

Specifically, Tesla Motors has launched a new approach to data collection: Its vehicles are connected via the Internet to the manufacturer. That means that data up to the moment of a crash can be recovered.

In one example, a driver attempted to claim that a Tesla SUV model had malfunctioned and accelerated on its own, causing a crash into a building. However, Tesla was able to provide data indicating that the vehicle had been traveling at a constant, safe speed of only 6 mph before the accelerator pedal was slammed by the driver.

Tesla may be the only manufacturer to currently utilize the Internet to log driving data from its vehicles. However, the industry may be poised for a change. In fact, steps have already been taken in that direction with event data recorders included in most of the vehicles sold in the United States. The recorders function similar to a black box, allowing examiners to recover data that is logged if an accident occurs.

Our law firm is experienced in utilizing technology to our advantage in the courtroom. If black box data is available, you can rest assured that we will analyze it and apply it to our client’s advantage, where possible.

Source: MIT Technology Review, “Tesla Knows When a Crash Is Your Fault, and Other Carmakers Soon Will, Too,” Tom Simonite, June 8, 2016

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