Typically, attorneys rely on witnesses to establish negligence in car crash cases. Something almost mystical happens when ordinary people take the stand and talk about what they saw. One Supreme Court Justice called eyewitness testimony the most compelling kind of evidence in a court case.
But such evidence is not always available. Some car crashes have no witnesses, and some witnesses are legally incompetent for one reason or another.
The Event Data Recorder is usually vital in cases like these. A skilled attorney can use the information these gadgets contain to establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), even if there is no competent eyewitness testimony available.
EDR Nuts and Bolts
The first EDRs appeared in the 1970s. These crude gadgets usually only measured airbag deployment, and perhaps seatbelt use. These items are not particularly helpful to Indianapolis personal injury lawyers.
Like other forms of technology, EDRs evolved over time. By the late 1990s, EDRs measured and recorded a number of operational functions, including:
- Vehicle speed,
- Brake application,
- Engine RPM, and
- Steering angle.
These items are not only critical to many car crash claims. EDRs are more reliable and more specific than eyewitness testimony. Assuming the device is working properly, a computer is never incorrect and never biased. Additionally, a witness might testify that a car was “speeding.” EDR data can conclusively show that the car was traveling 58.3mph. That is much more compelling, especially to tech-savvy Marion County jurors.
EDR Legal Issues
Indianapolis has very strict vehicle data privacy laws. To overcome these laws, attorneys generally need court orders before they can access and download EDR data.
Furthermore, EDRs are not always available. Generally, insurance companies destroy wrecked vehicles within a few days. If that happens, any physical evidence these vehicles contain, including the EDR, is gone forever.
To prevent this outcome, an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer must immediately send a spoliation letter to the insurance company. This letter creates a legal duty to preserve all potential physical evidence for trial. Judges harshly punish insurance companies who ignore this requirement.
A camera covers almost every intersection or stretch of highway in Marion County. The device could be a security camera, red light camera, or traffic camera.
The video footage is not the grainy, black-and-white pictures that 20th-century cameras recorded. Instead, the footage consists of high-definition digital images that are easy to present to a jury. Additionally, an attorney can easily freeze-frame, convert moving images to still pictures, and otherwise enhance the image.
Typically, an attorney must subpoena the camera before reviewing the images. Additionally, there are some legal hurdles to overcome before the footage can be presented in court.
Damages in an Indiana car crash claim can include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, and noneconomic losses, such as loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are awarded in certain cases.
Contact Hard-Hitting Lawyers
Electronic evidence is often critical in civil cases. For a free consultation with an experienced Indianapolis personal injury attorney, contact Holland & Holland. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.