The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. Articles How Your Car’s Black Box Can Affect Your Auto Collision Case

How Your Car’s Black Box Can Affect Your Auto Collision Case

By Christopher Hoffmann  Dec. 27, 2018 9:05a

In 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing. For many, this event was unfathomable, as they believed that modern technology wouldn’t let such a thing happen. The result that came in the United States was an improvement in flight recorders, which people often call “black boxes.” While you may know that story, you probably don’t understand how you and your St. Louis auto accident attorney might use one of these devices after you suffer acar accident injury.

Car Accident Cases are Notoriously Contentious

Sometimes, car accident cases go as planned. A negligent driver hits you, that person admits fault, and you receive compensation for the many costs that you incur from your injuries. Unfortunately, things often don’t go so smoothly. One reason why is a difference in opinion between drivers where both of them think the other was at fault. Another is the opposing party lying about the conditions leading up to the accident. In these situations, lawyers look toward physical evidence to resolve the matter.

What is a Black Box?

A black box is a machine that most car manufacturers install in their vehicles. What it does is record various metrics like speed, time of day, and total distance traveled in a specific amount of time. At the moment, not every car has one, but many of them do. Additionally, almost every semi-truck on the road does. No matter what, if one of the vehicles in your crash has one of these devices, you might be able to use it.

How You Can Use One in a Collision Case

The best use of a black box is establishing speed at the time of the crash. Going too fast can be a form of negligence, so proving that another driving was breaking the speed limit could be a factor in winning your case. Additionally, time-based data can help you reconstruct the accident precisely.

Obtaining its Data

Unfortunately, getting data from a black box is not so easy. The first situation in which you might try is getting the device out of your car. Doing so will require an expert to extract and interpret the information, though. Also, if you want the data of someone else’s vehicle, you’ll need to go through legal channels to get it.

The Shortcomings of Black Boxes

There are three fundamental shortcomings when it comes to black boxes. They are as follows.

  • They can be destroyed in a collision.

  • They generally require an expert to interpret data from them.

  • You will need a court order before you extract it from another person’s car.


If you get into a car accident and come out with an injury, you and your St. Louis car accident attorney will look for all possible evidence. While pieces like witness testimonies and accident reconstructionists are much more common, one avenue you might explore is obtaining black box data. When you do, it could be the missing key to you getting the compensation you deserve from the at-fault party in your collision.

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