Proving Fault For A Palm Springs Auto Accident Just Got Easier
Historically proving who was at fault for a Coachella Valley auto accident occurring in Palm Springs or Palm Desert required a personal injury lawyer to obtain the traffic accident report and start the investigation by examining photos of the accident scene, interviewing witnesses listed in the police report, looking for tire marks and debris at the accident scene and looking closely at the accident vehicles. Notwithstanding using the above described methods for determining the responsible driver for the car crash, errors in analysis can occur and witness memory and reliability are sometimes unreliable.
Very often an experienced personal injury lawyer such as the law firm of Barry Regar A Professional Law Corporation must hire accident reconstruction experts to determine the speeds of the cars involved in the traffic collision. Their methods although allegedly scientific can often come into question. These experts use the laws of physics, vehicle crush data, and other physical evidence to, "reconstruct", the accident scenario. Although these expert opinions are most often reliable within a certain margin of error, the experts are not without bias. And if a jury is given the task of deciding who was at fault for a vehicle accident, whether it be a motorcycle accident, truck accident or car accident the jury has to weigh the testimony of one auto crash expert against the testimony of another expert hired by the opposing attorney. The person suing for money damages for a Palm Springs personal injury caused by a car crash is called the Plaintiff. The person being sued is called the Defendant. It should not be a surprise to anyone that the Plaintiff will hire expert A and the Defendant will hire expert B. A and B will almost always disagree in their trial testimony as to whether the Plaintiff or the Defendant was at fault for the accident. This disagreement is very often the reason the case results in a jury trial. Sometimes the issue is not about who was at fault but how much the Plaintiff should be awarded for his or her injuries causally related to the accident.
But there is a, "new Sheriff in town", called the event data recorder or better known as the, "black box". We are all familiar with the black boxes that have been in airplanes for decades. Every time there is a plane crash the news always reports that the cause of the crash is awaiting the retrieval of the flight data recorder. This marvelous piece of technical equipment records flight speed, angles of flight, engine conditions and other vital information about what was happening to the plane before the crash. Most people don't know that 96%of all new cars sold in our country have black boxes that can record information such as speed before a crash, brake application, steering wheel movement, and whether or not a person was wearing a seatbelt before the crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pushing Congress to mandate that all new cars have black boxes on board by September of 2104.
There are consumer privacy groups that are opposed to these black boxes because of the data they can gather and these groups are concerned who can access the data. I assume they worry about drivers being, "tracked" by the government or whoever can obtain the data from the black boxes. But to federal regulators, the police and even insurance companies this data that can be accumulated from the black boxes can be an indispensable resource to investigate car crashes and vehicle safety. Some consumer groups worry that the Fed has yet to provide guidelines as to how the data should be used. There are variances in the law from state to state as to who can access the data from a black box after an accident. There are 14 states including New York that have passed laws that acknowledge that the data belongs to the car owner; but the information is accessible to third parties such as the police, insurance companies, and others who can demonstrate a legitimate need for the data. In these states attorneys can subpoena the black box data for criminal investigations and personal injury lawsuits.
There are a few impediments for personal injury lawyers to gain access to the crash data recorded on the vehicle black box. First these black boxes are not part of the equipment in older model cars. The black box information is not readily available to the owners of the accident vehicles or even their attorneys. This data must be retrieved by experts who have the skill and knowledge to download the stored data. The lawyer must hire experts with the technical knowledge about obtaining the data from the vehicles involved in the car crash or truck crash. The process is expensive thus limiting this information to those personal injury cases where the injuries are significant in order to justify the expense of hiring experts to obtain the black box information. We anticipate that eventually the black box date will be readily available for a simple download thus making the crash data routinely used in accurately identifying the driver who caused an accident by a process that is not expensive or cost prohibitive in the minor or moderate personal injury accident case.