Traditional evidence is not always effective in all cases. The police accident report is a good example. Evidence collection is not a top priority for emergency responders, so the report is often incomplete. Moreover, if the victim was killed or seriously injured, the police report narrative usually only contains one side of the story.
Frequently, a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder fills in some of these gaps. Almost all passenger cars in Missouri have an EDR, which is similar to a commercial jet’s black box flight data recorder.
Electronic evidence in general, and the EDR in particular, is usually very compelling in court. Such evidence usually resonates very well with tech-savvy Jackson County jurors. As a result, in many cases, effective use of this evidence could be the difference between fair compensation for serious injuries and having to settle for less.
These gadgets first appeared in the 1970s. The first crude EDRs were only in a few vehicles and they had limited capabilities. Generally, they only measured seatbelt use and airbag deployment.
Today, these devices are mandatory in all passenger vehicles in the United States. Additionally, the latest EDRs have a wide range of capabilities. These gadgets measure and record things like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Brake application, and
- Engine deceleration rate.
Any of these metrics could be critical in a car crash claim. Additionally, electronic evidence is often better than eyewitness testimony. Assuming the device is working properly, computers are never wrong and never biased. Electronic evidence is also more specific. A witness might testify that a car was speeding. EDR data, on the other hand, conclusively shows the car was traveling at 61.2mph.
Using EDR Evidence in Court
Missouri has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. Generally, only the vehicle’s owner or a mechanic can access such information. So, a Kansas City personal injury lawyer must obtain a court order prior to inspecting and downloading EDR information.
Additionally, these devices are quite sophisticated. An attorney needs more than a screwdriver and a laptop. Lawyers frequently partner with mechanics or private investigators to access EDR information.
That’s assuming the EDR is available at all. Unless an attorney acts quickly, that’s usually not the case. Generally, insurance companies immediately destroy wrecked vehicles. If that happens, the EDR is lost. So, an attorney must immediately send a spoliation letter to the insurance company. This letter creates a legal duty to preserve all physical evidence, including electronic evidence.
Electronic evidence is often vital in vehicle collision claims. For a free consultation with an experienced Kansas City personal injury lawyer, contact the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.