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Electronic Evidence in a Rockford Car Crash Case

Auto Accident AttorneyIn Illinois vehicle collision claims, victim/plaintiffs must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of evidence in the Prairie State. Even still, traditional evidence sources may be insufficient.

For example, the victim’s own testimony may be enough to establish liability. But quite often, car crashes happen so fast, victims may not have time to see everything unfold. In the unfortunate incident of death as a result of a vehicle crash, there is no one to testify.

To replace the victim/plaintiff’s testimony, or at least supplement it, many Rockford personal injury attorneys count on electronic evidence and the Event Data Recorder (EDR) is a good illustration.

Vehicle Event Data Recorders

Many people are unaware their personal vehicles contain an EDR. This gadget is like the black box flight recorder in commercial jets. The black box records key engine and other metrics, which help investigators separate mechanical defects from pilot error.

EDRs are usually attached to the vehicle’s drive train and captures and records important metrics like:

  • Vehicle Speed: Electronic evidence is more specific than either the victim/plaintiff’s testimony or an eyewitness testimony. Witnesses tell the jury the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was going “fast.” EDR data show the tortfeasor was travelling 76.3 MPH.
  • Brake Application: Skid marks often indicate a driver slammed on the brakes. But today’s tires are so well-made, they often do not leave noticeable skid marks. However, EDRs measure almost imperceptible changes in acceleration and braking.
  • Steering Angle: Witness perspective may be an issue. What seems to be out-of-control weaving may actually be only a minor course correction. EDRs can separate one from the other.

In all these cases, EDR information is almost never wrong. Assuming the device was working properly, it’s almost impossible for insurance company lawyers to successfully challenge EDR information in court.

Obtaining EDR Information

From a technical standpoint, EDRs are very complex. It takes a lot more than a screwdriver and a laptop to access and download the data they contain. An attorney needs to have the right resources.

There are legal issues as well. For one thing, Illinois has very strict EDR privacy laws. Generally, an attorney needs a court order to access electronic vehicle information, such as the EDR or a GPS location history.

Because they know how much of a difference EDRs can make in court, questionable insurance companies usually try to dispose of EDRs before attorneys access them. Many insurance companies “accidentally” destroy the EDR when they dispose of a vehicle that’s been totaled.

To prevent such an outcome, attorneys send spoliation letters to insurance companies. These letters create a legal duty to preserve all possible physical evidence, including the EDR.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

Difficult-to-obtain electronic evidence may be the key to your car crash claim. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Winnebago County and nearby jurisdictions.