Why Is the Black Box Important in Truck Accidents?
Have you been involved in a truck accident? If so, you know first-hand what a terrifying experience it is to have your life upended by a commercial vehicle. Unfortunately, most truck accident victims don’t know that the key to getting meaningful compensation for their injuries may rest in the hands of the trucking company.
Most commercial trucks have black box devices in their vehicles. These devices may hold vital information that could impact your claim and prove that the truck driver’s negligence resulted in the accident. However, data like that is valuable. Trucking companies are not eager to voluntarily hand over information that may end up costing them money.
What type of information does a truck’s black box contain, and how can you gain access to it? At Sampson Law Firm, we want to give you a better idea of how a truck’s black box could impact your truck accident claim.
What Is a Truck’s Black Box?
“Black box” is a generic term for an electronic data recorder. Most commercial trucks have a black box installed in the vehicle. There are different types of black box data recorders. The two most common recorders are electronic control modules or ECMs and event data recorders or EDRs. These devices are each integrated into the engine of the truck. They are both computerized systems that record and store data about the physical properties of the truck.
Most ECM devices will also record data when a truck is involved in an accident or a near-accident. Although different models may record different information, in general, a black box will capture information about the following:
- Speed before a crash
- A sudden change in acceleration or deceleration
- The number of hard stops
- RPMs between stops
- If the truck’s brakes were applied
- When a truck’s brakes were applied
- Whether a truck was on cruise control
- If the truck was operating at, above, or below the speed limit
- Whether the driver was wearing a seat belt
- Tire pressure
- GPS location data
Some ECMs can also record communications and emails exchanged between the driver and the trucking company. Electronic Logging Devices, which are now standard on more commercial vehicles, can also capture information about a driver’s off-duty hours, sleeping berth hours, and how many hours the truck had been in operation.
How Can a Truck’s Black Box Data Help Me After an Accident?
The data captured and stored in a black box can be crucial to strengthening an accident victim’s claim for compensation. The data held within the device can provide clues to the cause of the accident and show whether negligence on the part of the truck driver is to blame. An ECM or similar device may reveal that a driver was operating their vehicle beyond their permitted hours of service or that they were speeding at the time of the crash. ECM data may also point to internal defects or malfunctions within the vehicle itself.
The black box is an objective and neutral witness to a crash. It doesn’t choose sides, and it can’t change its story to fit someone else’s narrative. However, gaining access to this information can be challenging. Technically, the data recorded on the black box is the property of the trucking company. Most newer data recording devices can only keep and store data for 30 days. The information is then deleted or recorded over. However, nothing is stopping a trucking company from losing or destroying that data at any time. Nothing except your attorney.
While the information contained in a black box recorder can be vital, it can only help your case if you have access to it. Getting access means consulting with an aggressive and experienced attorney immediately after a collision with a commercial truck. An attorney will often draft what is known as a letter of spoliation. This document is delivered to the trucking company and notifies them that they must preserve all evidence pertaining to the accident, including ECM or black box data.
Get in Touch with an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Now
When you are involved in a significant truck accident, you don’t have time to wait to hope the trucking company and its insurer will offer you the money you deserve. The company will move swiftly to mitigate its losses and protect itself from a large payout. Act now and get an aggressive attorney on your side who will fight to earn you the money you deserve.
Did a negligent truck driver injure you? Then contact the Louisville truck accident attorneys of Sampson Law Firm today at (502) 584-5050 for a free case evaluation. We want to help you pursue the financial compensation you need to recover from your injuries.