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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.

How Does Fatigue Affect Truck Accidents?

truck accident fatigueTruckers and trucking companies are held to high standards of safety when they’re operating. Unfortunately, truckers and their companies do not always meet these standards, which require truckers to be well-rested, and this can lead to accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), about 13 percent of accidents involving commercial motor vehicle drivers in a recent year involved fatigue on the part of the commercial driver.

Fatigue has an impact on driver performance, which can increase the chances of an accident. It is the responsibility of truckers and trucking companies to ensure that drivers are getting adequate rest, are not being overworked, and are taking the appropriate rest and meal breaks. Behaviors that can lead to fatigue for truck drivers include:

  • Not getting enough sleep: Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep in order to be fully alert during the day. Circadian rhythms dictate that 12 am – 6 am and 2 pm – 4 pm are the times of the day in which drivers are likely to be drowsy. Studies by the FMSCA have found that driver drowsiness was highly correlated to times of day, so truckers should avoid driving at night if possible. Additionally, taking naps during the afternoon can be more effective than drinking coffee, and can keep alertness levels up.
  • Working too much: Trucking companies and their drivers are required to keep service logs that help ensure that the drivers are not working too much in a given period of time. However, truckers are often under extreme pressure to meet deadlines and may end up taking longer shifts to deliver their cargo sooner. Having to be alert for shifts as long as 11 hours can lead to fatigue if truckers do not take regular breaks.
  • Taking medication that leads to drowsiness: While driving, truckers should not take medications that cause drowsiness. Medications that cause drowsiness often have a warning label stating that users should not drive or operate machinery for a certain period of time after taking the medication. Over-the-counter medications, such as sleeping pills, allergy medicines, and cold medicines can also lead to drowsiness behind the wheel. According to a 2008 study by the FMCSA, about 17 percent of truckers were using over-the-counter medications at the time of a crash.
  • Not knowing the signs of drowsiness: It is the responsibility of truckers to know themselves and understand what makes them drowsy. If you are yawning frequently, have heavy eyes, blurred vision, or have difficulty concentrating, it is probably time to take a break. Being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, which is the legal limit in most states. Truckers who do not get adequate sleep and work longer shifts without stopping are more prone to drowsiness.
  • Not eating a balanced diet: In addition to sleep, good nutrition is essential to long hours on the road. Truckers should avoid going to bed on an empty stomach or eating a very heavy meal just before bedtime. Truckers should stop for regular meals, and try to maintain as close to a normal meal schedule as possible to avoid disruptions to their sleep. Truckers should also not rely on stimulants such as coffee to keep them awake, as excessive caffeine intake can lead to insomnia and nervousness, neither of which is conducive to getting a good night’s rest.

If you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a large truck, some of these contributing factors to fatigue can be used as evidence in a claim. For example, truck drivers’ travel logs can be used to show the driver exceeded the legal limit on driving hours. Additionally, trucks often have black box recorders similar to those found in airplanes that can be used to understand what might have been going on in the cab prior to a crash. A qualified personal injury lawyer will know how to secure these pieces of evidence to determine whether fatigue was a contributing factor to the truck accident.

Contact Sampson Law Firm Today

If you have been involved in an accident involving a large truck that wasn’t your fault, you should hire a lawyer as soon as possible to help you with your claim. Driver fatigue is a leading factor in truck accidents, and gathering evidence of fatigue from trucking companies is an important part of your claim that a lawyer can assist you with. Call the Louisville personal injury lawyers of Sampson Law Firm today at (502) 584-5050 for a free initial consultation.

How Are Truck Accidents Different from Other Auto Accidents?

Injuries and fatalities can occur in any type of motor vehicle accident. However, when a collision involves a large truck, the consequences can be catastrophic. Even if a small car and commercial truck crash into each other at low speeds, the smaller vehicle occupants can sustain severe injuries requiring emergency medical care.

According to statistics from 2019, 4,119 people died in large truck accidents, but only 16 percent of the fatalities were the occupants of a large truck. The occupants of passenger vehicles made up 67 percent of the deaths that year.

Despite wearing your seatbelt, following all traffic laws, and taking the precautions necessary to keep yourself safe, you could cross paths with a dangerous truck driver. Avoiding an accident is nearly impossible if someone else behaves recklessly at the wheel.

Trucks Are Massive

truck vs car accidentOne of the biggest differences between an accident between two cars and one with a commercial truck and a compact car is the size and weight. The typical passenger car can weigh around 3,000 to 5,000 pounds. A tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 with a fully loaded cargo container. When the two vehicles collide, the entire weight of the truck is behind the force of the impact. It can cause significant property damage and injuries.

Truck drivers can face challenges while maneuvering a long and heavy truck around other vehicles. A greater stopping distance is necessary to bring the truck to a complete stop. “Stopping distance” is the total distance it takes to recognize a perceived danger, step on the brakes, and stop your vehicle. If a truck travels at 65 miles per hour, the driver needs at least 200 yards to bring it to a complete stop.

Bigger Blind Spots

Commercial trucks have larger blind spots than passenger cars. Most non-commercial vehicles have a blind spot on either side. However, a large truck, such as a tractor-trailer, has a blind spot on all four sides.

The blind spot in front of the cab of a truck can extend out as much as twenty feet. The blind spot behind the back of the trailer can be up to thirty feet long. On the left side of the truck is a blind spot that starts at the rear of the cab and extends along the side of the trailer towards the back. The right side of the truck has a blind spot that starts at the back of the cab, extending out two lanes and towards the back of the trailer.

Whenever a trucker needs to merge onto a highway, turn right or left, or change lanes, they’re supposed to check every blind spot. Since commercial trucks sit higher off the ground than small cars, the truck driver could drive over another vehicle in their way while changing lanes or pin someone between their truck and another car while taking a turn.

Obstacles Created by the Cargo

Many people store personal belongings, such as clothing or cell phone chargers, in their vehicles. However, the items they keep in their cars aren’t usually as hazardous as the cargo truck drivers transport on the back of their commercial trucks.

Some large trucks contain massive items, such as machinery and furniture. Others carry flammable materials and hazardous waste. Cargo could fall off the truck during a collision, injuring the driver and occupants of other vehicles.

Sharp objects can become projectiles, loose cargo can end up in the middle of the road, creating obstacles for motorists, and toxic substances can cause burn injuries or spark a fire.

Truck Accidents Cause More Devastating Injuries

It’s possible for the victim of a car crash to suffer severe or even life-threatening injuries. However, accidents involving commercial trucks can be much worse.

The most common injuries include:

Proving Fault Can Be a Time-Consuming Process

Typically, with other auto accidents, one of the drivers involved in the collision is at fault.

It can be an uphill battle to determine who should be held liable for a truck accident. That’s because multiple parties can be involved in the case. Although the truck driver was at the wheel when the crash occurred, another person or company’s actions could have contributed.

The trucking company could be at fault for knowingly hiring an unqualified driver or failing to maintain all trucks adequately. The cargo loading company could be responsible if employees exceeded the maximum weight limit allowed on the trailer.

Contact Us

If you were involved in an accident with a commercial truck and believe the truck driver or another party’s negligent actions caused it, contact Sampson Law Firm right now to discuss your case and learn about your legal options.

Our legal team can determine who should be held liable and help pursue the maximum compensation possible in your case. We will fight by your side for the justice you deserve.

Call (502) 584-5050 today for your free consultation.

Two hurt in tractor trailer-dump truck collision

Fifty-four-year-old Princeton, Kentucky resident Ronald Merrick and 51-year-old James Vandiver sustained injuries and were hospitalized after their vehicles collided head-on at Kentucky Route 91 in Caldwell County on Friday, September 25.

According to the Kentucky State Police, Merrick had been driving a tractor-trailer that was heading north on Kentucky Route 91 when it ran off the roadway, overcorrected, headed toward the southbound lane, and collided with the dump truck Vandiver was driving, which was loaded with gravel.

Merrick was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, while Vandiver was brought to the Caldwell County Hospital.

KSP’s commercial enforcement division is conducting an investigation into the case. The road was closed for four hours so that maintenance crews could clean up the accident site.

Our attorneys at the Sampson Law Firm in Louisville are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals who have the misfortune to find themselves as victims of personal injury accidents caused by the negligent actions of other people. Call our offices today at (502) 584-5050.

Two semi-truck accidents briefly close I-65 S

Interstate 65 south was closed to public traffic on May 27 due to two different vehicular accidents that happened within 50 yards of each other, WHAS11 reported.

The first accident, which involved three commercial vehicles and a passenger car, did not result in any injuries, although a large amount of diesel oil spilled into the roadway because of the incident.

The second accident also involved three commercial trucks and an automobile, but this time injuries were reported. Police officers said two of three semi drivers had to be taken to the University of Louisville Hospital for treatment of their serious injuries.

Police said they are still conducting investigations into both accidents.

The attorneys at the Sampson Law Firm in Louisville represent those who have been injured through no fault of their own. If you have experienced this, our legal team may advocate on your behalf for the funds you need to cover damages, including expensive medical bills. Call us at (502) 584-5050 today to learn more.

One dead in vehicle-garbage truck collision in Kentucky

According to the Bullitt County Coroner’s Office, 29-year-old Bardstown, Kentucky resident Samantha Greenwell was killed at around 5:30 p.m. after the vehicle she was driving pulled into the path of a garbage truck, resulting in a collision, WDRB News reported. The accident occurred August 21 on Highway 245 in Bullitt County.

The intersection of Highway 245 and Happy Hollow Road, just outside a Jim Beam distillery factory, was closed to public traffic as a result of the accident and on-site investigation. Bullitt County dispatchers said the road was closed until 10 p.m. later the same day. Police investigators are still attempting to determine the details surrounding the fatal car accident.

Funeral arrangements for the deceased were not yet confirmed at the time of the article.

The attorneys at the Sampson Law Firm are deeply sorry for this incident and extend their sincere condolences to the friends and family suffering during this difficult time.

Firefighter killed by passing semi-truck

While putting out a van fire in the southbound lanes of I-65, a semi-truck collided with mother and son volunteer firefighters Lisa, 43, and Jonathan French, 25, resulting in the death of Jonathan, WLKY reported on August 6.

Lisa, was flown to the University of Louisville Hospital and was reportedly in stable condition with a broken knee and dislocated elbow. The Glendale Fire Department was run by Jonathan’s uncle,  Fire Chief Richard Peters. Before the accident, the team was attempting to extinguish a van on fire along I-65 in Hardin County. As a precaution, an additional fire truck was placed behind the group. However, the passing semi-truck hit both the truck and Jonathan. Peters assured that all safety procedures were followed that day.

There has yet to be any charges pressed, but police continue to investigate the details of the incident to determine fault.

The attorneys at the Sampson Law Firm extend their sincere condolences to the friends and family suffering from this great loss.