The Importance of Black Boxes in Truck Accidents

A truck accident is an extremely scary experience. Tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and other commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded with cargo. Compare that to the mere 4,000 pounds passenger cars usually weigh, and it is easy to see the immense damage trucks can do on the road.

When a negligent truck driver or trucking company causes an accident, you can claim financial compensation for your injuries and other losses. However, like many other truck accident victims, you may find obtaining the full and fair compensation you deserve to be challenging. To obtain the full amount of damages, you must show that the truck driver was at fault. The black box located within the truck that hit you is one of the best pieces of evidence you can use in your claim.

What is the Black Box in a Truck?

Most commercial trucks on the road today are outfitted with a black box. These devices are not required by law, but they have been installed in most tractor-trailers that are on the road today. Black boxes are also known as event data recorders (EDRs) or electronic control modules (ECMs). Both types are computerized systems that record the physical properties of a truck while it is in operation. Essentially, both types of black boxes record the actions of a truck or truck driver in the moments leading up to an accident. This information can include:

The speed of the truck before the accident
Sudden deceleration or acceleration before the crash
Whether the brakes in the truck were applied and when they were used
Whether cruise control was used before the accident
Whether the driver was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash
The revolutions per minute (RMPs) between stops
The number of hard stops that were made
The pressure in the tires of the truck
GPS data

Black boxes can also record data regarding how the truck was used. For example, a black box can record how long and where a truck was driven. Some models of black boxes can also record important communication between the truck driver and the trucking company. For example, emails from a trucker to their employer can include information about mechanical failures, driver fatigue, and other information that could help your case.

Why is Black Box Data Important?

Black boxes store a vast array of information. The information is critical to a personal injury claim because these cases often involve the accident victim’s word against that of the trucker or the trucking company. Even eyewitness statements are not always helpful. For example, a bystander may not be able to identify that a truck driver was speeding or that they had violated the federal hours of service rule. A black box will precisely identify the factors that could have contributed to a crash, so injured individuals can obtain the full and fair damages they are entitled to.

Challenges Associated With Obtaining Black Box Data

While the information within a black box is very useful in personal injury cases, it is not always easy for accident victims to obtain. The black box is under the control of the trucking company immediately following the accident. The trucking company knows how valuable the information is when a claim is filed against them, and they do not give it up willingly. To add to this challenge, black boxes often only store information for 30 days, and sometimes even less than that. As such, the box must be obtained soon after a crash for it to be useful.

The best way to obtain a black box, and the data within it, is to work with an experienced truck accident lawyer in Baton Rouge. A lawyer will draft a letter of spoliation and make sure it is properly delivered to the truck company. A spoliation letter informs the trucking company that they must preserve any and all evidence related to the crash, including the black box data. This letter will also demand that the trucking company not destroy, lose, or tamper with the information.

Our Truck Accident Lawyers in Baton Rouge Can Collect Important Evidence

A truck’s black box is one of the most important pieces of evidence after any crash, but there are others, as well. During your recovery, you may find it difficult, if not impossible, to collect it all. At Big River Law, our Baton Rouge truck accident lawyers can advise on the best pieces of evidence in your case and collect it, so you obtain the fair compensation that is justly yours. Call us now at 225.963.9638 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help.

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