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Using the information held in an Event Data Recorder (EDR) in a legal matter can improve the strength of your case. EDRs can be used in both criminal and civil cases. If you are the injured party in a traffic accident or you believe you have been wrongly charged with a driving offense, you may be able to strengthen your case with the correct interpretation of the data. Let us begin by explaining what an EDR is.

What is an Event Data Recorder?


An EDR is a device installed in automobiles which acts as a sort of "black box" as used in aircraft. According to The National Academies Press: Sciences Engineering Medicine, it records the operation and status of a vehicle in the seconds before an accident. Both the police and a private party (your attorney acting on your instruction) may obtain data held in the EDR as part of the "discovery" phase of a legal case.

EDRs were first installed in vehicles by General Motors back in 1990, so they are an established engineering product. In addition, American courts have accepted that they carry relevant information that may be explained by a suitable expert to help a jury understand what the vehicle was doing at the time. The objective data in the EDR may contradict what an eyewitness or other observer believes they saw.

How Can an EDR Improve Your Case?


Court cases are heard by a judge and, when appropriate, by a jury. They listen to evidence, for example, based on information "discovered," from witnesses, and the opinion of experts. Objective evidence carries weight because it is not affected by a person's memory or what someone perceives happened. EDR data can improve a case because:

  • It is collected electronically, so is objective.
  • The Federal Rules of Evidence rule (FRE 1001) state that data may be held electronically, so it can be used to support a case.
  • Courts have established that EDR data may be "relevant and usable" in a case.
  • EDR data has passed third-party tests for accuracy, and results have been accepted by appropriately qualified experts.

The Takeaway


Cases are decided by evidence being heard and believed. EDR data is gathered objectively, has been proven to be reliable, and does not fade with time in the way a witness's memory may fade. Each EDR device's accuracy can be explained by an expert witness. Taking these into account strongly suggests that an EDR can improve a case. If you have been involved in an automobile accident, or if you believe you have been wrongly charged with a traffic offense and would like expert representation, please click this link to contact us, so we can arrange a free, initial consultation.