Black Box Evidence in Truck Accident Lawsuits

Truck accidents are some of the most dangerous types of automobile accidents. Due to their large size and heavy weight, semi-trucks can cause devastating multi-vehicle collisions on the freeway, rollover accidents, and head-on collisions. It only takes a few seconds for a semi-truck driver to be distracted before a large truck swerves into another lane of traffic and causes devastating injuries or even death.

If you or your loved one has been injured in a semi-truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. You will need to prove that the at-fault driver's negligence caused your injuries. One way you can prove that the truck driver acted negligently is to use black box evidence.

What is Black Box Evidence?

Black box technology used to be used for planes to determine the cause of plane accidents. Currently, many modern commercial vehicles come with digital data records, call data records (EDRs), or “black boxes.” These black boxes take a snapshot of everything that happened right before the truck accident. They make it easier for accident reconstruction specialists to provide evidence as to the cause of the crash. The data recorded initially by black boxes is typically not permanent.

However, when an airbag deploys, or a collision occurs, the black box information will automatically be extracted and saved to a separate digital device. At that point, accident reconstruction experts can download the data to a computer to analyze it. These experts can potentially use the data to determine who caused the accident.

Potentially Valuable Black Box Evidence

Most large trucks that are manufactured in the United States have EDRs installed. If you are a passenger who has been injured in a truck accident and you believe the truck driver is at fault, gaining access to the information recorded by the black box is crucial. Black boxes record multiple types of valuable information, including the truck’s speed, operation, maintenance, and other vital facts. As a result, the information found on black boxes can benefit personal injury victims who need to show that the truck driver drove negligently or recklessly.

Most black boxes installed in semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles collect a more comprehensive range of data than those installed in passenger cars. The potential for using information recorded on the black box to bring a successful personal injury case against the truck driver may be even greater than those hoping to win a lawsuit against the driver of a passenger vehicle.

For example, the black box will have recorded the truck driver’s speed immediately before the accident. If a driver used excessive speeds above the posted speed limit, this evidence would be valuable in your personal injury case to show that they drove recklessly. Even if the truck driver was going the speed limit, if the weather was dangerous, you may be able to show that the truck driver should have driven at a reduced speed as a reasonable driver would have done.

The black box will typically show the position of the truck steering wheel at the time of the accident and whether or not the truck driver applied the brakes. It will also show when the truck driver applied the brakes. If the truck driver was not paying attention, this evidence might indicate that they did not brake in time or did not leave enough room between the truck and the vehicle in front to brake safely.

You can also determine how long the truck has been driven since its last stop and other data that could prove crucial to winning your case. Suppose the truck driver had been driving for eight hours without taking a break. In that case, you may be able to show that they did not take federally mandated breaks and were driving while fatigued, causing the accident.

Preserving Black Box Evidence

Time is of the essence when it comes to gathering evidence from a black box. If you do not access the evidence and time, the black box evidence could be destroyed. It is important to discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to send the defendant a spoliation of evidence letter, cautioning them not to destroy evidence from the black box that could prove crucial to your case. If you or your loved one has been injured in a truck accident, Arnold & Smith, PLLC, can help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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