Black Boxes in Commercial Trucks
After a commercial truck accident, you may feel confused or unable to explain what went wrong. That’s especially true if you suffered an injury. As your body responds to the shock of the collision, trying to remember the details can be challenging. Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on your memory to provide the facts of the crash. The truck’s black box data can yield a wealth of information about what happened.
Commercial trucks carry black boxes, also called event data recorders (EDRs) or electronic logging systems (ELSs). They are computer systems that record and store data in the moments before an accident. The data can help prove the trucker’s actions and establish fault. It might show the driver exceeded the speed limit or engaged in other careless actions before the wreck. This information could be vital to proving a subsequent personal injury claim.
Contact Swenson & Shelley immediately if you suffered injuries in a Utah truck accident. You deserve compensation after all you’ve been through. Our experienced lawyers will demand the money and justice you deserve.
Truck accident cases are high-stakes claims, where a fair payout can mean the difference between struggling to pay the bills and reclaiming your financial security. Our law firm includes a board-certified truck accident attorney, so you can rest assured you’ve hired a team that knows what it takes to win. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
What is an Electronic Logging Device?
A commercial truck carries an electronic logging device (ELD) on board. The ELD synchronizes with the engine and records information automatically. It records data while the vehicle is in motion, such as:
- Engine hours
- Driver’s identification, commercial vehicle, and motor carrier
- Duty status
- Vehicle motion status
- Engine hours
- Number of miles driven
- Engine power status
The driver or motor carrier can transfer data on the device to law enforcement or other officials upon request. The type of ELD will determine the method of transfer. Some have email capabilities, allowing an email with an attachment of the file containing the data. Others can transfer the data using USB or Bluetooth, and the recipient can upload the information on a computer.
Every truck driver required to maintain a record-of-duty status must use an ELD to show they comply with the hours-of-service regulations unless they meet an exemption under federal law.
A record-of-duty status is a written log of everything a trucker does during a 24-hour period. Before new federal laws were passed requiring ELDs, a paper log was the only method of tracking driving hours, breaks, and other information.
With paper logs, falsifying the document is simple. Anyone can change the details or write down incorrect information to avoid civil penalties if an accident occurs. Altering the data on an ELD isn’t possible without showing annotations and edits. The device maintains original records despite any changes a person makes.
What Data is Stored in a Black Box Recorder?
Black boxes record and store information about the occupant and the technical conditions of the truck right before, during, and after an accident, such as:
- Airbag deployment
- Whether cruise control was on or off
- The speed of the vehicle immediately before the collision
- Whether the truck slowed down or accelerated before the crash
- Whether the driver applied the brakes and when
- Seatbelt use
- Tire pressure
- How often the driver drove at, below, or above the speed limit
- GPS coordinates of the vehicle
- When and how long the trucker drove
- Number of previous accidents and the duration between each
Some black boxes record additional information depending on the manufacturer and model. They might store communications between the truck driver and their employer or a logistics company.
Do 18-Wheelers Have a Black Box?
Any commercial motor vehicle can be equipped with an event data recorder. That includes 18-wheelers. Federal law requires an ELS for commercial trucks with drivers who are required to record their drive time. Drivers must prepare a record-of-duty status showing hours of service compliance.
How Can Black Box Data Help My Injury Case?
Black box data can be beneficial if you want to pursue compensation for your injury. Establishing liability for an accident requires showing evidence of someone else’s misconduct.
In a truck accident case, you must prove the truck driver, trucking company, or another negligent party is responsible for what happened. The data you obtain from the EDR might indicate the trucker violated federal regulations or broke a traffic law. For example, the information might show the truck driver was speeding right before the collision or drove beyond the maximum allowed driving hours.
How Do I Get a Truck’s Black Box Data?
Your truck accident lawyer can request the data from a truck’s black box. They will send the trucking company a letter asking to preserve the evidence. That means the motor carrier is prohibited from altering, moving, or destroying the device and any data it contains.
Hiring a lawyer immediately after the collision is critical. While newer models can store data for up to 30 days, older models might record over the old data with new information after a few days. Ensuring no one else uses the device can prevent you from losing valuable evidence.
You should not attempt to acquire a black box without legal representation. Truck accident cases are complex. Insurance companies and defense attorneys often use unfair tactics to avoid liability and reduce payouts. Without a truck accident lawyer’s help, you could receive less compensation than you deserve or nothing at all.
Compensation for Injuries in a Truck Accident
If someone else is at fault for the collision, you can pursue compensation in an insurance claim or lawsuit. The money you receive might compensate for your:
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Hospitalization, ambulance services, and other medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of household assistance
- Emotional distress
- Property damage
You might also recover punitive damages in a lawsuit against the at-fault party. To be awarded these types of damages, you must show clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s acts or omissions are:
- Malicious and willful
- Intentionally fraudulent conduct showing a reckless and knowing indifference and disregard for others’ rights
Need Help with a Truck Accident Case? Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
Did you suffer injuries from a truck accident in Utah? Let the truck accident lawyers at Swenson & Shelley demand justice and accountability from the at-fault party. We can help you get the medical treatment you need and handle every aspect of your insurance claim or lawsuit.
Call or contact us now for a free consultation. We will review the circumstances of your truck accident case and advise you of all your legal options.