Sep 22, 2023

The Role of Black Box Data in Investigating Truck Accidents

A car accident can be sudden, violent, and confusing. This can be doubly so with truck accidents, given the size and power of the average semi-truck. It can be difficult coming out of it to explain what happened, and you may not be able to rely on the eyewitness account of others. 

You need to know what happened, as accurately as possible, so you can present your case and get the proper compensation. 

The truck should have devices that will help log and track electronic data that is usually referred to as a black box, and being sure that this information is preserved can be vital to a claim. The role of black box data in investigating truck accidents cannot be overstated, but how does it work and what can it do for you? This page will help you understand the truck’s black box, as well as how your truck accident lawyer can use it to help your case.

Truck Head-On Accident With a Smaller Car

What Does a Black Box Do?

Commercial trucks’ black boxes usually consist of two parts: the Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) and the Event Data Recorders (EDR). They can work together to collect important data on the truck’s operation, location, speed, wheel input, etc. and storing it for later. 

The Electronic Logging Device (EDR) can record mileage and driving hours to ensure that the driver is not being pushed past regulatory limits for driving hours. A commercial truck operator is only supposed to drive a certain amount of hours without taking a break, so as not to be too tired to operate the vehicle properly. If you are in a truck accident and these hours have been exceeded, driver fatigue could have contributed (and some studies have remarked how fatigued driving can be as bad as driving under the influence). 

The EDR also records the details of the truck’s performance. This includes speed, acceleration, and even brake times. These often help tell the story leading up to the incident, revealing how fast the truck was going, and whether the driver had been driving properly. With truck accident investigations, the more information you have to draw from, the better it can be.

How Can a Black Box Help My Claim?

To make a claim have higher odds of success, you are going to need the right kind of information. If you intend to get the best payout for your claim, you will need an objective, provable series of events leading up to the trucking crash. The data in the black box can provide experts a lot of necessary information that can tell you what contributed to the 18-wheeler’s negligence so that you, your injury lawyer, and the case can proceed accordingly. 

If the ELD reveals that the driver had been driving too long, they and their company may be opening themselves up to further liability. You can use this data in court to get your compensatory damages, and perhaps even punitive damages, if they acted with gross negligence.

The EDR can tell you if the driver was driving too fast or recklessly for the conditions. This will likely help you the most, as most of the details of what led up to the accident can be found here. While accidents happen, almost everything has a reason, and it is important to find the reasons (or decisions that led to the crash) to be compensated appropriately. 

Who Can Access Black Box Data?

Whichever company owns the truck involved with the accident and their insurance provider can have access to the black box. The data within their possession is not simple to access, and so iIf you and your attorney want access to the black box data, you will most likely have to ask for special access with an expert – if you have to file a lawsuit will depend on how reasonable the insurance adjuster and/or defense counsel are going to be in the claims process. The company has no obligation to provide the data prior to litigation, and you want to avoid a situation where they overwrite it; you also run the risk that the data can be corrupted with time. 

It is crucial to make your move as quickly as possible so that you and your lawyers will have access to the vital information you need. You will need your Miami truck accident lawyer to send a spoliation letter (asking for preservation of evidence), which serves as legal notice to the big rig driver and owner/operator of the semi-truck; this includes the black box data, and deleting it after that point would result in trouble for them.

How Can An Attorney Help You Investigate Your Truck Accident?

A lawyer will have the experience and know-how to work quickly to get the information you need. They will send the spoliation notice on your behalf, and they can ask to receive and download the data to review. They will ensure all the pertinent information is held onto and all involved parties are there so there can be no accusations of mishandling. Failure to preserve the data could seriously hinder your ability to receive compensation you deserve, so an experienced attorney is a necessary piece to the puzzle. 

The black box will only be admissible if handled properly by expert(s), which a lawyer will be able to work with. The lawyer can then review the data and build your case, acting on your behalf to ensure you receive as much compensation as a client deserves. You have already endured the accident itself, an attorney will take it from there doing the footwork necessary to help win your case. 

Damages You Can Receive For a Truck Accident Claim

You can receive three types of damages in a truck accident claim, and your settlement can include all three. The data in the black box significantly contributes to what and how much of them you are entitled to under Florida law.

Economic damages are simply reimbursement for costs accrued. This means your hospital bills, property damage, lost wages. You can also receive payments for costs that will come over time if your treatment is ongoing or you have become disabled.

Non-economic damages, or pain and suffering damages, cover the emotional cost of the accident. They are awarded based on how much of a personal strain the accident has put you through. If someone you love is killed in an accident, they are also awarded based on your loss of companionship and how much the victim suffered. 

Punitive damages are uncommon, but they can also apply if the driver or company is found to be guilty of serious wrongdoing – and the black box data can help to determine that. 

Multiple Trucks in a Highway

Talk to Your Lawyer About Your Truck Accident Investigation

If you have recently been involved in any truck accidents in the Miami area, seek the services of a Miami truck accident lawyer. Nobody knows the role of black box data in investigating truck accidents better, and nobody is more ready to help clients receive the compensation you deserve. 

Nuñez Law will fight for clients every step of the way, including the investigation process. If you have questions or want a free consultation, call or contact us through our website. Remember, Florida law provides a statute of limitations of two (2) years since March of 2023 (under HB 837 which is also referred to as Fla. Stat. 768.0427).