VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Tesla owner's account of accident contradicted by his vehicle

Florida motorists who drive sophisticated modern automobiles may want to think twice before they blame negligent actions on some sort of mechanical failure. Many current cars, trucks and SUVs either transmit information to their manufacturers or feature black box devices that record data. This information could be used by accident investigators to determine what occurred in the moments before a crash, and it can leave less than truthful drivers with some explaining to do.

A California man discovered this on June 7 when Tesla released a statement revealing exactly what happened just before his brand new Model X struck the side of a building. The man had posted on an internet forum that his luxury SUV had accelerated without warning and blamed the vehicle's electronic systems for the crash. However, Tesla claims that the car was proceeding safely at a sedate 6 mph and only crashed when the accelerator pedal was suddenly pressed to the floor.

While the Tesla owner only suffered some minor online ridicule, drivers who lie to police officers or their insurance companies may face serious consequences if black box data contradicts their accounts. Many vehicles now have the capability to record data, and auto industry experts believe that about 90 percent of the passenger vehicles sold in the United States will feature technology similar to that of the Model X by 2020.

The information stored or transmitted by modern cars could also help to establish liability in lawsuits filed on behalf of car accident victims. Personal injury attorneys may conduct independent investigations when facts are scarce and police reports are inconclusive. Electronic information such as black box data, cellphone records and digital security camera footage could be important when defendants refuse to accept responsibility for their negligent actions.

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