I love major league baseball. The whole baseball experience, win or lose, fascinates me. The Toronto Blue Jays in particular are a constant subject of study, entertainment, admiration, sometimes frustration and lately, fear.
Being at a big league ballpark is a magical experience.
Watching the game on TV is altogether different – and for a number of reasons – an equal but far more cerebral pleasure. Why? Because on TV the magic of the game, including all of the psychology, strategy and action is reduced to numbers.
In a TV broadcast the commentary and the graphics not only display the game but measure it. The measurements, now in the modern era all based on data rather than myth and superstition, scientifically capture and explain every play. But nothing is better captured, measured and explained than the pitch. All of the data is displayed in a digital, graphic representation, thanks to the pitch tracker.
When I watch the game on TV my eyes oscillate between the players and the pitch tracker. I don’t have to make any guesses about the speed and location of the pitch – it’s all displayed with scientific certainty. Neither the players nor even the umpire have the same advantage.
There is nothing magical about a car accident. But like the pitch and the swing, everything happens extremely fast, the present so quickly becoming the past that what actually occurred becomes a mystery.
Enter the event data recorder – or EDR. Almost every modern automobile has one. These computer devices can record with perfect accuracy exactly what happens in an accident, including direction, velocity, braking and turning. The information available from the EDR provides a game changing advantage to any lawyer working to prove who was at fault for an accident.
At Kelly + Kelly when we have a case where liability is a significant issue or where, as in a traumatic brain injury case the precise measurement of velocity is crucial, we immediately go to work to find the EDR from the involved vehicles.
We’ve developed a reliable procedure for obtaining the EDR and the data it provides. If we’re retained promptly after the accident we can usually get our hands on the EDR of any involved vehicles. Even if we’re retained weeks or months after the accident we can still track down the EDR depending on whether and how many times the vehicle has changed hands, and even if the car is in a wrecking yard.
However, in my experience, vehicles often disappear pretty fast when the driver was at fault and the damage and injury was significant. So, as Yogi Berra said: “It gets late early out here.” This is another key reason for anyone injured in a car accident to hire a lawyer as soon as possible.
While we do our best to use the EDR as much as possible, I’m surprised by how seldom the EDR appears to be used in cases outside my firm. The problem is probably one of tradition – a lot of lawyers have a hard time breaking away from proving or defending car accident liability cases exclusively on the basis of witness accounts.
Likewise, tradition is at the core of baseball, thus umpires never get to see the pitch tracker. The difference with car accidents and personal injury cases is that everybody including the Judge is entitled to see the EDR measurements if available. So, the EDR can be used to solve the mystery of what happened when the work is done to obtain it.
I’ll leave for another day my opinion on whether the pitch tracker should be made available to the umpire. For now, at least in baseball, I prefer the tradition and the magic.