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Black Box Evidence in Car Accident Lawsuits

Posted on: January 27, 2023

Chi Hung Nguyen
January 27, 2023

Black Box Evidence in Car Accident Lawsuits

Black boxes are becoming more common tools used by any driver operating a vehicle, not just commercial airlines. Black boxes are equipped on millions of cars today. They record, collect and store information that can be used to eliminate many of the fact questions in car accidents and truck accidents today.


Black box devices are mathematically coded data systems that able to record speed, whether seat belts were fastened, whether the driver used breaks, the position of the steering wheel, any use of signaling devices during the five seconds before an accident, the throttle position and stores this information up until the moment of impact when the car stops moving.


Sometimes, a black box is underneath the driver’s seat. Other times, a black box is just a microchip inside the car’s steering column or inside of the wiring system where a person may not be able to see it. Depending on the system, some black boxes require particular equipment and software in order to be able to download the data. While the average person may not always be able to retrieve, understand and decode the black box’s data, accident reconstructionists can use this valuable information in the event of a vehicle accident.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) installed hundreds of accident recorders on school buses and other vehicles to try to collect safety data and improve safety on the roads.


Black boxes, new technology and collection of relevant information are just a few methods and  tools that can be used to help an injured claimant recover the compensation he or she deserves after an accident.


Information to Collect from the Car Crash

Black box data and information may not always be available. Even when it is, this may not be enough by itself. Whenever possible, injured claimants and their personal injury attorneys should collect as much information as they can after a car crash. This includes:

  • Telephone Records: Your attorney is able to request or subpoena cell phone records. These days, cell phone records are readily available. These records may be able to show whether the at-fault driver was on the phone. On the other hand, if the injured claimant was on the phone, the at-fault driver’s attorney / insurance company may also request the injured claimant’s records.


Phone records can be used to show a particular at-fault driver was lying. For example, let’s say the driver says he was not on his cell phone, and then his cell phone records show that he was texting or calling at the time of the accident. This evidence can be used to contradict what he said and show he lied.

  • Photographs/Video from the scene of the accident and vehicles: Even if the injured claimant was unable to take photos or footage of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved, the insurance company or at-fault driver may have these files. The photos of the car and injuries should show the entire car from different angles, and the level of how severe the accident impacted the vehicle. The injured claimant’s attorney should seek these since they can show the condition of the cars, weather, people present at the time of the accident and more that may have faded with time or that people do not remember.

Footage evidence can come from unexpected places. For example, let’s say a claimant is injured in a car accident. Across the street, there is a fast food restaurant with a drive through. There may be a security camera outside the store that happened to be pointed in the direction of the accident at the time of the crash, and captured the entire accident from the point of view of a party that is not involved in the case.

  • Accident Reports, Crash Reports: If the police was called to the scene of the accident, then they will likely have written a crash report and/or investigation report. Typically, this contains the date, time and location of the accident, the officer’s belief as to who was at-fault or whether certain conditions played a role in the accident, a diagram of the scene of the accident, the name of the at-fault driver’s employer (if the at-fault driver was a truck driver who got into an accident while on the job) and the name of the insurance company. Similarly, the insurance company may have either sent out a representative or remotely taken statements and written an insurance investigation report that the injured claimant should try to obtain to paint a clear picture of the facts of the case.

In addition to police departments, other government offices may have important records and reports as well. For example the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) likely will have driver records. Sometimes, the insurance company will get the license plate numbers of all the cars at or near the scene of the accident, then try to contact them as potential witnesses.

  • Communication System Files: Sometimes, an injured claimant is involved in a car accident with a company’s employee-driver. For example, the driver of an 18-wheeler may have caused an accident, or an appliance repairman may have caused an accident while on the way to repair someone’s refrigerator and while using the company vehicle. Whatever the specific case facts may be, in these instances, usually the employer has a way to communicate with their employees. Employers who send out employees to do a particular job likely has some procedure set in place so that they know where the employee is, how long they spend at a particular job and to communicate instructions to the employee. Finding out how they communicate can help shed light and ensure that the employer is liable if they share in the responsibility for the accident.

For cases involving a commercial driver, there are delivery summaries, driver logs trip summaries, pick up or delivery information and more that can be used as evidence to show a driver was sent out at a particular time, was on the job at the time of the accident, and other relevant trip information.

  • Satellite Tracking: A part of recreating the storyline of what exactly happened to the injured claimant is getting as much accurate information as possible so that the judge and jury can follow the trip route. Satellite tracking can help with this by showing where the driver was headed, how long he was driving on the road and more. While this is not always available, it is important to try to seek as much information as possible. Meaningful, case-winning facts can be discovered.


Collecting all of the information after an accident is an important step early in the process, because it is necessary to provide evidence to support a claim for damages with an insurance company. Insurance claims representatives and adjusters do not typically have a professional medical or healthcare background. They are not usually qualified experts that can understand everything involved. This is the reason that it is important to paint a picture about everything that happened for the insurance company.


If the injured claimant can show the insurance company that there is a lot of evidence that shows that its driver was clearly at-fault, and the amount or extent of damages, it is more likely that the insurance company will engage in settlement negotiations.


Using the information collected from a black box and other tools and methods, the injured claimant’s personal injury lawyer may create a timeline of the sequence of events, or a diagram of the accident to show where everyone was located. The scene of the accident can be made more clear using this kind of information.


The information available after an accident is not kept forever. Sometimes, the companies, police departments and other entities that may have relevant evidence about a car accident have a retention policy that allows them to delete any information after a certain amount of time. This could be months, or years. In the end, if your lawyer does not request the information or evidence on time – it disappear forever.


It is for this reason that if you are hurt in a car accident, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.


Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer


Without experience in the insurance industry or legal experience, understanding which factors or evidence can help or hurt your case can be difficult to understand.


Are you trying to secure your financial recovery with the help of experienced attorneys? If so, we can help.


The Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm has helped countless Texans handle their insurance disputes. Our experienced trial lawyers have gone up against some of the biggest names in the insurance industry while successfully bringing home payouts for clients. Our successful reputation speaks for itself, and with offices in both Houston and San Antonio, we are well equipped to assist Texans who are in dire need of our services. Register online for a free case evaluation or call us today at 713-524-8139 (Houston) or 210-702-3000 to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.

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