Black Boxes Aren’t Just For Airplanes — The Use Of Vehicle Data Recorders In Products Liability Cases


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed new regulations requiring that automobile manufacturers include vehicle data recorders, frequently called “black boxes,” in all motor vehicles produced after September 1, 2014.   Data recorders constantly monitor different types of data from a vehicle.   Especially important for “crashworthiness” products liability cases, data such as vehicle speed, braking, and whether the driver was wearing a seatbelt is recorded and maintained if the vehicle is in a crash.  Vehicle data from seconds before a crash is saved if a vehicle’s air bags deploy or the data recorder senses a collision has occurred.

Personal injury or wrongful death victims of crashes caused by vehicle defects can use the data from the recording devices.  Data from the vehicle’s black box can help determine why a crash occurred and whether a design or manufacturing defect caused or contributed to the crash.  That can be extremely useful if the vehicle’s data supports your case because data from the black box is difficult for vehicle manufacturers to refute, almost like DNA evidence.

Along with products liability lawsuits, black boxes can also impact ordinary motor vehicle accident cases too.  Vehicle data devices could establish a vehicle’s movement, speed, braking, etc., as well as seatbelt use or nonuse.  That information may be evidence in deciding which driver was at fault in the crash.



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