When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident you will likely have a million thoughts going through your head, and not be able to focus on any one of them.
After the initial impact you will have some time collect your thoughts, and perhaps those thoughts might turn to what evidence you should collect from the accident, in the event litigation needs to be commenced to recover damages for either the property, or for personal injury.
This three part series will provide information about the types of evidence you should collect, ranging from basic information (part 1), to more technical information that you can gather (part 2) and then finally technical information that can only be gathered by a qualified expert (part 3).
Here is part 3.
3a. Information for an expert to collect – Airbags and Electronic Data Records
Passenger vehicles solid in Australia since 2000 are subject to a mandatory requirement to be fitted with SRS Airbags (Supplementary Restraint Systems). These SRS airbags are fitted with electronic diagnostic/control modules, also known as Electronic Data Records (EDR) which monitor the system for faults, crash sensors which detect sudden declaration and a back-up power supply to ensure the system has power if the battery is damaged before the crash sensors are activated.
If there is any question of who was liable for a motor vehicle accident you should ensure that you preserve the SRS diagnostic module.
The SRS diagnostic module will commence recording data from a collision, only when the crash sensors detect a collision is occurring. The module will generally record approximately 5 seconds of pre accident data and 5 seconds of post accident data.
The type of information that may be retrieved from the module includes:
- Crash data such as change in velocity, pre-collision speed, post-collision speed and direction of force, percentage of throttle, engine RPM and brake switch status.
- Other systems information such as driver seatbelt status and passenger seatbelt status.
You will require expert assistance to access the data on your SRS diagnostic module. You should not attempt to access this information yourself so as to avoid risk of damage to the module.
To preserve this evidence, if you have possession of the damage vehicle, perhaps consider requesting a road accident investigator to access this information early. If you do not have possession of the vehicle, consider requesting access to the vehicle to have that information downloaded by a road crash investigator.
As for the other vehicle, it is difficult to compel access to that information, but it would be worth at least requesting that information from the other driver.
3b. Information to collect after an accident – Light Bulbs
The often overlooked lightbulb can provide valuable evidence of the circumstances of an accident.
If a motor vehicle accident happens at night time questions may arise if any of the parties involved had operating headlights, tail lights or indicator lights.
An appropriate expert can perform a lamp filament analysis to determine whether the bulb was operating at the time of the accident.
How does the bulb provide evidence about an accident? The small coil like filament inside the glass is normally straight and taut. While a bulb is operating, the filament heats up and becomes flexible. During a collision, the filament may experience high impact forces and will react to those forces. These forces can cause the filament to stretch or distort. If the bulb was not operating, then generally the filament would not react to these forces as violently as if the filament was hot, or the filament may simple break into pieces.
It is important to preserve these bulbs after a motor vehicle accident.
In some cases, your insurer, or the police, may take possession of your vehicle. You should ensure that all suggested investigations referred to in this guide are complete before your vehicle is taken and you should always ensure that an appropriate experts undertakes the investigations.
If you have sustained an injury in the accident, your lawyer can gather all of this information on your behalf.