I was recently involved in a case involving a tractor trailer and an elderly driver. The elderly driver was rear ended by the tractor trailer and suffered injuries which left her unable to recall the facts of the crash. Interestingly, in an attempt to limit liability, the trucking company hired a lawyer to offer opinions regarding our client's speed at impact. This issue had never been raised prior to trial, so we had not had our client's vehicle's black box data downloaded. The case settled and we ended up not having to hire an expert to provide the information for us. Fortunately, we still had the vehicle, so this would not have been a problem.
However, in some cases the data contained in a vehicle's "black box"
can be crucial to the case- it can indicate things such as braking,
seatbelt use, speed at the time of crash, warning lights on vehicles
etc. Unfortunately, in many cases, the vehicle is unknowingly sold or
released to the insurance company, or an inexperienced attorney ends up
hiring the wrong expert to download the data, ruining its potential
admissibility at trial. Furthermore, there are few commercially
available systems that can be used to download the data. It appears
help is on the way, but is more than three years away. As of September
2012, NHTSA regulations (49 C.F.R. 562) will require vehicle
manufacturers to provide commercially available systems which can be
used to retrieve event data recorder (black box) information. Moreover,
the information will have to be available in a standardized format. At
present, the Bosch Vetronix retrieval system is the only commercially
available system. However, the Bosch system cannot be used on all