Why Is the Black Box Important in Truck Accidents?

importance of black box in truck accidentIf you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a big rig or other large truck, there are several pieces of evidence you should seek to recover and preserve for when you file a claim.

Like airplanes, most large trucks have onboard devices known as black boxes that are designed to record and preserve information. That information can include the speed and movement of the truck just before an accident. Accidents need not be deadly for this information to be valuable, as it helps to provide context for how the truck, and by extension, the driver were behaving prior to an accident. If you have been involved in an accident with a truck, you should keep in mind these points about the importance of preserving the truck’s black box:

Trucking companies may attempt to withhold the black box from evidence. Because black boxes provide crucial evidence, trucking companies will often try to withhold this evidence unless they are legally compelled to provide it. There is a wealth of information to be found in the black box, as it stores data both in the moments leading up to the crash and after the crash. Because this information provides both the technical specifications and onboard activity, it can become much harder to prove that the trucking company or trucker was at fault if the black box information cannot be obtained.

Different black box components give us varying pieces of information. What is known as a “black box” is actually several different pieces of equipment. They typically consist of the Electronic Control Module (ECM), Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), and Event Data Recorder (EDR).

  • The ECM is a computer that runs the engine of the truck. It is a series of computers and sensors that control the engine, as well as other automatic systems in the truck such as the transmission, anti-lock brake systems, and fuel injection. The ECM is the system that generates “fault codes” that mechanics can use when trying to diagnose an issue with the truck. They record a wide variety of information, such as speed, temperature, battery information, tire pressure, and other elements necessary for the safe functioning of a truck.
  • The ELD is a device that measures the driver’s operation of the truck. Trucking companies are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to maintain “hours of service” logs that document how far the truck is traveling and when the engine is running. These ELDs are useful in determining whether the driver was fatigued or driving overtime based on the hours of service the ELD tracks.
  • The EDR is what you most likely would think of when you think of a “black box.” This device records data about the vehicle in the moments before it detects an “event,” such as an airbag deployment or sudden braking or deceleration event. The information the EDR records includes speed, brake application, the turning of the wheels, and whether the cruise control was engaged.

lawyer recovering black box dataA personal injury lawyer gives you the best chance of successfully recovering the black box data and admitting it into evidence. Trucking companies will often try to withhold the black box and associated information from evidence, and for good reason – it contains vital information about the crash and information that can be used to prove that the truck driver was at fault. Therefore, trucking companies will often not submit the EDR into evidence unless legally compelled to do so.

A qualified personal injury lawyer is your best bet for ensuring that this evidence is preserved and protected in the wake of an accident. They understand the rules surrounding the preservation of evidence and will work to ensure that this evidence is admitted into your claim for consideration.

Contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a large truck, you need qualified legal representation on your side to ensure that you recover compensation and hold those who have injured you through their negligence accountable. Black boxes can provide critical information about trucking accidents, as they help to provide context to what was going on in the cabin prior to an accident.

A personal injury lawyer will understand how to recover this evidence and ensure that it does not get tampered with. Call the Chicago area truck accident lawyers of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC today at (312) 346-8620 for a free initial consultation.

Written by Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Last Updated : May 21, 2019
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