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How a vehicle's black box can affect your car accident lawsuit

Most people are aware that commercial airplanes carry indestructible flight recorders that are commonly referred to as "black boxes". These devices have been around for years and they are generally used to record key information or events happening inside the plane. Information on the black box records such as audio traffic and the aircraft navigational history can be vital to crash scene investigators -- particularly when they are attempting to determine what may have caused an airline crash.

Beginning in 1994, carmakers began incorporating similar technology in vehicles sold to the general public. The early versions of vehicle borne black boxes did little more than keep track of when airbags would deploy. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires vehicle black boxes to track 15 different variables. Some of those variables include the vehicle speed, seat belt usage, brake usage and even the vehicle steering position.

What many people don't realize is that the information contained in those black boxes can be retrieved in some circumstances. Using a device known as a Crash Data Retrieval system, investigators can pull the data from a vehicle and use that information to determine what may have gone wrong just prior to a collision.

Injured North Carolina motorists need to know that your attorney may be able to obtain the CDR information from a vehicle that was responsible for your accident. That information could contain vital data regarding driver negligence. For example, the CDR statistics may indicate whether a driver was speeding just prior to colliding with you. Additionally, CDR data that reveals a driver's failure to apply the brakes might indicate driver distraction. Both scenarios are instances where your North Carolina personal injury attorney can use a vehicle's black box to support your legal claims. Your attorney may even succeed in convincing the defendant in your case to settle your claims based on that CDR data.

Source: Congressional Research Service, "“Black Boxes” in Passenger Vehicles: Policy Issues," Bill Canis , David Randall Peterman, accessed May. 18, 2015

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