How Important Is Black Box Data After a Truck Accident?

How Important Is Black Box Data After a Truck Accident?Proving fault is crucial in a commercial truck accident case. Your lawyer must demonstrate that the defendant, more likely than not, caused your injuries. This hurdle is known as proving liability based on a preponderance of the evidence. It’s not about absolute certainty but convincing the jury that the defendant is most likely responsible for your accident and damages.

One piece of key evidence that can strengthen your case is the data from the commercial truck’s black box. Black box data after a truck accident can be a game-changer in swaying the jury’s opinion in your favor, as it records vital information like the truck’s speed, which can be pivotal in understanding the accident. Keep reading to learn more about what a black box is, what kind of information it records, and why it’s so important to secure its data, if possible, after a truck accident.

What is a Black Box?

Often called Event Data Recorders (EDRs), black boxes are now standard equipment in most new vehicles in the U.S. Think of it as the vehicle’s vigilant overseer. It is an electronic control module that keeps a detailed record of the truck’s functions and movement. This device constantly gathers information from various sensors throughout the truck, tracking everything from speed and location to how often drivers use their brakes.

Sudden changes in wheel pace or problems picked up by electronic sensors in the engine, often called faults, trigger the truck’s EDR. Usually, one or more of these conditions occur because of an accident. However, an EDR’s ability to record hinges on a crucial factor: the vehicle must be running. The black box won’t capture any data if the truck’s ignition is off and is not receiving battery power. When in use, these devices play a crucial role in determining fault in the aftermath of a collision, especially in commercial vehicles.

What Kind of Data Does a Black Box Collect?

If you are involved in a truck accident and want to prove fault and damages, the truck’s black box data can be invaluable. This is because an EDR’s data can be a crucial source of information, allowing authorities to piece together the events leading up to the truck accident.

A truck’s black box is linked to the truck’s engine and other critical mechanical parts, allowing it to capture and record a wide range of data points—over 100 different types. These data points include brake application attempts, the truck’s speed, the intensity of the crash impact, and mechanical failures, to more nuanced data like steering angles and whether the driver fastened their seatbelt. EDRs can even record the vehicle’s tilt and throttle positions. These devices are designed to preserve data from the crucial 20 seconds before a collision, offering a snapshot of what happened just before impact.

How Long Does a Car Black Box Store Data Evidence in Truck Accidents?

Not every truck has a black box. But if the one that hit you does have one, securing the critical information you need may be difficult. This hurdle is just one reason it’s essential to act quickly and speak to a skilled truck accident attorney at Henderson Law as soon as possible. Another reason to act swiftly is that EDR devices are typically programmed to delete their contents within a month. Taking quick action is even more important to prevent the loss of vital evidence if the truck belongs to a commercial trucking company. Commercial trucking companies are known to erase black box data unless legally compelled to preserve it.

Newer passenger vehicles also often come equipped with EDRs, which can prove helpful to the party bringing the claim if the trucking company is elusive about its data. However, most modern cars and vehicles store data for only a short period, from a few seconds to a few minutes. The duration will vary depending on the vehicle’s make and model, so consulting the owner’s manual or the manufacturer will give you a more accurate idea.

How Important Is It to Gather Black Box Data After a Truck Accident?

When an accident happens, the black box is an invaluable resource during the truck accident investigation. Investigators can extract and scrutinize the stored data to piece together the events leading to the crash. Among the most critical data EDRs record are the truck’s speed, engine RPM, throttle position, brake and clutch statuses, steering angle, whether the driver wore a seatbelt, and how long the driver had been on the road. It also keeps track of sudden movements like sharp decelerations, swerves, or hard braking, common precursors to collisions. This data sheds light on the truck’s condition and the driver’s actions just before the accident.

However, accessing data from vehicles like commercial trucks requires investigators to meet certain conditions. These include the truck owner’s consent, safety-related vehicle searches, court orders, or needs related to servicing or repairing the EDR. However, many commercial trucks have insurance policies that permit insurers to download black box data following a collision. This policy can be a fallback option if the trucking company tries to tamper with the black box.

If You Were in a Truck Accident Contact Henderson Law for Unparalleled Accident Advocacy

With over 25 years of experience, attorney Michael Henderson at Henderson Law offers unmatched truck accident representation. Motivated by the desire to assist people who have experienced devastating personal injuries, he goes above and beyond for his clients, working tirelessly to obtain tens of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts over the past two decades. Honored as a member of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Injury Trial Lawyers in both 2016 and 2017, Michael has also served as President of the Consumer Attorneys of Sonoma County. If you were in a truck accident and need reliable, honest, and practical legal advice from the moment you first sit down to discuss your case, contact us today. At Henderson Law, we provide our clients with unwavering legal representation they can trust.