The Legal Examiner Affiliate Network The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner search instagram avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner
Skip to main content
 Aftermath of a car crash accident at a very busy intersection.

There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth. The drivers involved in a car crash almost always have different recollections of how the crash occurred. Thankfully, new technology has made it easier to determine the truth — all thanks to the Event Data Recorder (EDR), a device in newer vehicles that records information before, during, and after a crash. The EDR is similar to a plane’s black box and can capture images, speed data, and other statistical information. These data points can help prove that a driver’s reckless behavior caused a collision and can be invaluable in a Virginia personal injury lawsuit

The Aftermath of a Virginia Car Accident

In some cases, determining fault after a car accident is straightforward. For example, while there are exceptions, drivers who rear-end vehicles are typically found at fault after a crash. Another possible scenario is a driver who ran a red light and caused a collision. But in other scenarios, it can be complicated — especially in cases involving rights-of-way and speeding. In these cases, a police report may not state who was at fault, making it more difficult for an insurance company to determine liability. 

As more vehicles become equipped with Event Data Recorders, determining who was at fault will become easier as data will provide concrete answers. This technology is triggered when a driver performs an action often linked to a crash, like suddenly slowing down or hitting a curb. EDRs have been standard in Toyota, Lexus, and Scion vehicles since 2007 and are now standard in newer cars across all brands. Not all EDRs collect the same amount of information, but they all record some level of data. 

Some privacy concerns have been raised with EDRs, and several states — including Virginia — have established rules regarding how EDR data can be collected and used. Per Virginia Code § 46.2-1088.6, EDR data can only be accessed by the owner of a motor vehicle or their agent or legal representative. There are several exceptions to this rule, including:

  • If a third-party subscription service requires access
  • If the recording is needed to diagnose, service, or repair a vehicle
  • To help facilitate an emergency response
  • When law enforcement officials believe a law has broken 
  • Under a court order

Congress has also enacted laws regarding how EDR data can be used. The Driver Privacy Act of 2015 states that the owner or lessee of a vehicle is the only person who can access recorder data, but there are some exclusions:

  • If an investigator is authorized by a court or other authority to retrieve the data
  • The data is part of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board or Department of Transportation
  • The information is retrieved for traffic safety research, and the owner’s personal information isn’t disclosed
  • The data is retrieved to determine the medical response to a crash
  • The vehicle owner consents to data retrieval

Car Data and Personal Injury Lawsuits

After a car accident, you may hire an attorney to help you receive the maximum amount of compensation available to you. How can EDR data help in a personal injury lawsuit? Data recorders can prove that a driver behaved recklessly — whether by speeding, improper steering, or failing to brake in time. This data takes the conjecture out of the accident investigation process. Instead of worrying about “he said, she said,” you’ll have concrete information on how another driver’s behavior caused an accident. Virginia uses a pure contributory negligence rule for personal injury cases, which means that the defendant must be 100% at fault for you to collect damages. 

If a plaintiff is found to share any of the fault, they cannot recover damages. EDR data can be crucial in these circumstances, as it can show exactly how a driver’s conduct solely led to a crash. Recovering data from an EDR is a complex process that requires specific equipment and must be outsourced in most cases. Crash data retrieval specialists use tools to retrieve data from the recorder and convert it into a readable file that can be easily analyzed. 

If a motorist knows they were at fault for a crash, they might not voluntarily share their vehicle’s EDR information. An attorney can seek a court order to force the other party to retrieve crash data, which can make or break a personal injury lawsuit. As EDRs increase in popularity in newer vehicles, investigators will likely have to rely less on undependable eyewitness testimony and drivers who may not be forthcoming about their actions leading up to a collision.

After a car accident, you should seek an attorney familiar with EDR technology and data retrieval laws, which vary by state. Curcio Law specializes in auto accident cases and has recovered millions of dollars in settlements for car crash victims across Virginia. Call or text 703-836-3366 today or visit us online to schedule a free consultation.


Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Please do not include personal details in your comment. To message the author privately instead, click here.

Contacting the author via this website, either publicly or privately, does not create an attorney–client privilege.

Curcio Law Auto Accident Attorneys