If you were injured in a commercial vehicle accident caused by a negligent truck driver, you will need to obtain as much evidence as possible that proves the driver’s responsibility for compensating you. A valuable piece of evidence that you need is the data from the big rig's black box. If you're able to obtain it, this can be extremely useful in convincing the insurance companies for the driver and transportation company that they are liable for providing compensation for your injuries.
What Is A Truck's Black Box?
A semi's black box, also referred to as an event data recorder (EDR), is similar to the data unit installed on airplanes.
Since the 1990s, most large trucks were equipped with a black box, so it's likely there was one in the vehicle involved in your truck crash. These devices were originally designed by commercial vehicle manufacturers to combat invalid warranty claims.
However, they have since become more useful to truck accident victims. The black box records a variety of information about the rig's operations, including:
- Average and highest speed, as well as speed at the time of the wreck
- Time the trucker drove
- Time spent driving 65 mph or faster
- Average engine RPM
- Seat belt usage
- Airbag performance
- Truck’s idling time
- Hard braking and sudden stops
- GPS coordinates and location information
- Usage of the cruise control
How Black Box Data Can Help Your Truck Accident Claim
Data from the black box can help an experienced truck accident attorney or another expert determine what the truck was doing before, during, and after your collision.
For example, data can show the speed of the vehicle and whether the truck driver made a hard stop. In addition, the EDR will confirm the operator's drive times his or her written log. If there's a discrepancy, this may help establish that your wreck was caused by trucker fatigue or a violation of hours of service rules regarding how long he or she could drive. Information from the EDR can also demonstrate when the trucker isn't a credible witness or the trucking company had a pattern of violating federal safety regulations.
Beginning December 18, 2017, most trucks are required to be equipped with an electronic logging device that provides additional information to a black box. This device can be installed in the truck or connect through a cellphone or tablet. It provides data on the date and time, miles travelled, and other crucial factors. The electronic logging device may also help prove your right for injury compensation, and you'll need legal assistance to get it.
Why You Must Act Quickly to Obtain the Truck’s Black Box
After your truck accident, it's imperative to obtain the data from the truck’s black box before it's lost. The data is usually recorded over in about 30 days, and some older black boxes record data for a much shorter period of time. Unfortunately, the trucking company won't provide this information voluntarily.
You'll need assistance from a knowledgeable legal partner so he can take steps to preserve this vital evidence. He can send the transportation company a spoliation letter advising it of your claim and to not destroy documents and other evidence—including the truck’s black box. Once the fleet company receives this notice of your claim, federal regulations prohibit it from destroying evidence that could help your case.
In some cases, a trucking company won't be cooperative in providing the information requested by the attorney. If you're in this situation, your truck accident legal team may need to file an immediate lawsuit and obtain a temporary restraining order from a judge ordering the company not to destroy the black box data and other evidence.
Do you need help filing your claim and gathering evidence following a truck accident? Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation today.