Understanding the Importance of Black Boxes After a Truck Accident

Truck Accident Lawyer

If you have been hurt in a truck accident, you have the burden of proof to show that the truck driver, trucking company, or other party caused the accident. This can be difficult, but it is important to work with a lawyer who will know how to prove your case. One tool lawyers use when proving liability after a truck accident is obtaining the black box, also known as an event data recorder (EDR). 

Using the truck’s black box, it becomes much easier to determine how a crash occurred and what the driver and vehicle were doing shortly before and during the crash. Our friends at Big River Trial Attorneys explain the importance of this piece of evidence below.

What Information Does a Black Box Contain?

Black boxes on commercial trucks store very helpful information that can help you prove the legal elements of your claim. Black boxes will usually save information about the geographical location of a vehicle before an accident, information about the route the truck was taking at the time of a crash, and information regarding the status of the truck. Other information contained within black boxes can include:

  • Truck activity logs for that particular day, as well as the month
  • The GPS coordinates of the vehicle
  • Information about whether the airbag deployed in the truck during the crash
  • Information about the steering wheel’s position at the time of the accident
  • The speed of the truck immediately before the crash
  • How many times the trucker deviated from the posted speed limit prior to the crash
  • The number of accidents the truck had been involved in and the amount of time between those accidents
  • The oil levels in the engine and the tire pressure in the truck before the accident
  • How many times the trucker used cruise control before the crash
  • Whether the trucker was wearing a seatbelt before the accident
  • The frequency with which the trucker applied the brakes prior to the crash
  • Information regarding whether the truck driver accelerated or decelerated before the accident

Black boxes also sometimes save communications between the truck driver and the trucking company about how the crash happened. For example, a black box may contain statements about the medical condition of the driver at a certain time, emails between the driver and trucking company, and information about recent mechanical issues within a truck. A black box may also show that a driver violated the hours of service rule and so, the trucker was fatigued and caused the crash.

How Can a Lawyer Obtain Important Information From a Black Box?

The information contained within a truck’s black box is helpful when proving your personal injury case. If your lawyer can obtain the information inside, they can introduce it as evidence to either the insurance company or a jury at a civil trial.

After a truck accident, your lawyer will send a spoliation letter to the trucking company. These letters require trucking companies to preserve certain pieces of evidence and to ensure they are not damaged or destroyed. If a trucking company or trucker tries to destroy the evidence that was requested, they may later face sanctions in court. When a lawyer can send a spoliation letter early on in the investigative process, they have a very good chance of obtaining the information they need for your case.

Under the business records exception during a civil jury trial, your lawyer can then present the information contained within the black box as evidence. Black boxes are strong pieces of evidence, so it is important to speak to a lawyer who can obtain one in your case. The information contained within a black box is often enough to satisfy the burden of proof placed on accident victims in truck accident cases. Without this important piece of evidence, it can be much more challenging to prove your case and obtain the full settlement to which you are entitled.

If you have been hurt by a negligent truck driver or trucking company, you are likely entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. A dedicated truck accident lawyer can help you prove your case so you obtain the maximum settlement.