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Electronic Evidence in Car Wreck Claims

Personal Injury AttorneyTo obtain compensation for their injuries, accident victims must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of proof in Illinois law. So, traditional evidence sources, like the police accident report, are often sufficient to establish negligence in court.

But that’s not always the case. The police report is a good illustration. Even veteran emergency responders are not accident reconstruction professionals. They do the best they can with the available evidence, but sometimes, the available evidence is not good enough. For example, if the accident seriously injured or killed the victim, the report’s narrative section might only contain one side of the story.

If a Rockford personal injury attorney needs additional evidence, electronic evidence is a good place to start. As outlined below, such evidence is generally available and often compelling.

Surveillance Video

Traffic cameras, red-light cameras, and security cameras cover almost every intersection and stretch of highway in Winnebago County. Typically, these cameras record footage 24/7/365 in digital format, so the camera is always on. Also, many jurors respond well to the high-quality footage they see.

To obtain this footage, attorneys normally partner with private investigators. The investigators review the footage and, if necessary, attorneys issue subpoenas and obtain necessary court orders. Attorneys must also authenticate the video testimony in court.

Video footage is especially useful if it is different from the police report. As mentioned, the accident report is often incomplete or one-sided. But many jurors do not believe these things until they see them with their own two eyes.

Event Data Recorder

Many owners do not know that their vehicles have EDRs. These devices are much like the black box flight data recorders in commercial airliners. Capability varies by make and model, but most EDRs measure and record information like:

  • Vehicle speed
  • Steering angle
  • Brake application, and
  • Engine RPM

Much like video evidence, EDR evidence is quite compelling in court. Assuming the device is properly authenticated, computers are never biased and never wrong.

Illinois has strict vehicle information privacy laws. Normally, Rockford personal injury attorneys must obtain court orders before they can access and download EDR information. That’s assuming this evidence is available at all. Frequently, insurance companies “accidentally” destroy the EDR. Most insurance companies dispose of wrecked vehicles a few days after a collision.

Therefore, an attorney must act quickly to preserve EDR evidence. A spoliation letter creates a legal duty to preserve all physical evidence for trial, including electronic evidence. Once the evidence is legally secured, an attorney or investigator can download and examine this evidence.

These devices are quite sophisticated. That’s especially true of large truck EDRs. Attorneys need the proper tools and expertise to take full advantage of EDR evidence.

There is a lot at stake. Damages in a car wreck case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

Electronic evidence is often critical in car wreck claims. For a free consultation with an experienced Rockford personal injury lawyer, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. You have a limited amount of time to act.