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EDR Data: Why It Matters and How to Get It

One of the most powerful pieces of evidence in a disputed liability car accident case is data from the Event Data Recorder (EDR) of the involved vehicles . EDRs, often likened to the "black box" in airplanes, are devices installed in most vehicles manufactured since 2012.

EDRs record technical vehicle and occupant information for a short period before, during, and after a crash. Specifically, EDRs capture data such as speed, throttle position, brake application, seat belt usage, and airbag deployment moments before a collision. This information can help to clarify a vehicle's movements and conditions leading up to an accident, often serving as tie-breaking evidence in cases where liability otherwise comes down to "word against word."

Accessing EDR Data

Retrieving data from an EDR is not as straightforward as pulling information from a personal computer or smartphone. It requires specialized tools and knowledge. The Bosch Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) tool is the most commonly used instrument for accessing EDR data. It is designed to interface with the vehicle's diagnostic port to extract the recorded information safely and accurately. Alternatively, generic scan tools like the Snap-on MODIS also facilitate access to some types of EDR data, though their capabilities may vary.

Physically accessing a vehicle's EDR is only part of the equation. If the concerned vehicle has been totaled and resold, or belongs to another party involved in the collision, legal measures are required to gain access the vehicle and its EDR data.

First, it may be necessary to obtain the new owner's contact information by making a special request to the DMV. It may also be necessary to issue a subpoena mandating that the owner produce the vehicle for inspection if they are not willing to voluntarily cooperate. Further still, there are chain-of-custody issues which mandate that the EDR data be extracted in a manner that will preserve its admissibility in court.

In conclusion, EDR data provides an unbiased, data-driven account of a vehicle's actions immediately before a collision, which can be pivotal in determining fault. However, the technical and legal hurdles in accessing this data underscore the importance of retaining skilled and experienced legal counsel as soon as possible after an accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact Phillips & Associates for a free consultation today at (818) 348-9515. You will immediately be put in touch with John Phillips or Patrick DiFilippo, who can help determine whether you have a case and advise you on the best course of action moving forward.


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