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Black Box Data in Trucking Accident Cases

Black box data is invaluable for resolving a truck accident claim. By accessing the data from the black boxes, investigators can determine the cause of the accident, establish fault and negligence, and uncover other evidence to help paint a clearer picture of what happened.

Additionally, black box data can be used in court to strengthen the semi-truck accident case for either side by providing hard evidence of events before, during, and after the collision. In this way, it provides an objective and reliable source of information to help lawyers representing truck accident victims build their cases.

Were you involved in a trucking accident and wonder if evidence exists to prove liability? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can obtain black box data to prove that semi-truck driver negligence caused your damages.

Call a truck accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

investigating truck accidents black boxes

What Is a Black Box?

Black boxes are essential for trucking companies to monitor their drivers’ activities and locations. There are two types of data recording devices: electronic logging devices (ELDs) and event data recorders. ELDs document detailed information, including:

  • The route
  • Time of travel
  • Length of trip
  • Tire air pressure
  • GPS locations
  • Speeds, including speeding over the posted limit
  • Airbag deployment
  • HOS (hours of service)
  • Breaking time (required rest breaks by all trucks)

Event data recorders provide a way for companies to keep track of their drivers in real-time. This tracking helps make business operations more efficient for over-the-road haulers by providing accurate information about their drivers’ performance and whereabouts.

Truck manufacturers originally installed these devices to collect evidence easily to contest warranty claims anytime something went wrong with its trucks.

Using an Electronic Logging Device

An electronic logging device (ELD) connects to a commercial motor vehicle's engine and tracks driving hours to establish compliance with federally mandated Records of Duty Status and Hours of Service.

In December 2015, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association passed a rule mandating large trucks no older than the year 2000 to implement electronic logging devices or “ELDs” for their Hours-of-Service tracking system.

This stored information is invaluable to a semi-truck accident lawyer in establishing why a commercial truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and that the company's policies are the real reason it occurred.

Event data recorders and electronic logging devices can also monitor truck drivers' driving habits and compare them to driving logs. They can also determine what happened in a trucking accident or 'critical event'.

This data can help identify potential safety issues, such as driver fatigue, distracted driving, or other dangerous behaviors that could lead to a crash.

Utilizing Black Box Data After Crash Events

Obtaining black box data after a crash can be crucial to get the compensation you deserve for damage when resolving your claim. Electronic Onboard Recorders (EOBRs black box) are used to record data in commercial trucks, resulting in safer roadways.

However, the trucking industry has resisted federal law, equating it with “Big Brother” watching them.

There is a process to retrieving data, an accident attorney must send a preservation-of-evidence letter to the truck company in possession of the box. Upon receiving this notice, the company must maintain the important evidence.

Using Relevant Evidence to Reconstruct the Collision

A black box is an invaluable tool for reconstructing the events of a truck/car accident. It can provide information on whether the driver was distracted, asleep, or intoxicated at the time of the accident. It can also show if the driver was speeding and how long the vehicle had been in service.

This data can be used to determine if a trucking company allowed or pressured a driver to work beyond FMCSA hours-of-service limits.

The black box data can also exonerate a truck driver in an accident by showing that they were going the speed limit when another car, SUV, or truck pulled out in front of them.

This information can corroborate witness statements to accurately reconstruct what happened during an accident, including who was injured in the crash.

How Long Have Black Boxes Been in Use?

Black boxes have been used in the trucking industry since 1990, when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended their use in large commercial trucks. These devices are used to collect information that can be used to establish fault following a truck accident.

Depending on the event data recorder device, black boxes can collect information such as engine RPMs for a specific period prior to an accident, as well as data on the anti-locking brake system, tire pressure, cruise control engagement, speed of the vehicle, and average speeds.

Additionally, black boxes can provide a history of the truck's maintenance and critical event data, such as incidents of hard braking or rapid deceleration.

Why the Black Box Information Is So Crucial

A truck's black box is essential evidence needed to determine fault in an accident. This device, also known as an Event Data Recorder (EDR) or Engine Control Module (ECM), store data related to vehicle operation before and during impact.

This information can be invaluable for accident reconstruction and determining fault. Companies may attempt to remove or hide the black box to minimize their liability, making it even more important that this information is available.

The commercial truck's black box data can include speed, number of collisions, safety belt use, hours of service, GPS location, email correspondence between driver and supervisor, average speed, and tire pressure.

Different companies may install different types of ECMs, which may record more or less information than others. Therefore, all relevant data from the black box is collected and analyzed to accurately determine fault in a truck crash.

How an Accident Lawyer Obtains the Truck's Black Box Data

Our truck accident lawyers must obtain black box data to build a strong truck accident case for their clients. Black boxes are a valuable source of information about a commercial truck crash, but the stored information belongs to the trucking company.

An experienced truck accident attorney may need a court order or discovery process to access black box data, or law enforcement can gain access with a search warrant. The first step is to send a preservation-of-evidence letter to the trucking company in possession of the box.

Upon receiving this notice, the trucking company is now aware of the importance of strong evidence and must maintain it.

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Hold the Truck Driver, and Trucking Company Accountable After an Accident

Were you injured in a truck crash caused by someone else's negligence? Does the accident cause a huge problem, and you face huge medical bills, lost wages, and other damages?

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our law offices represent injured victims seeking compensation in complex truck accident cases. Call our law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free case consultation with an attorney.

We hold all trucking companies financially accountable for damages paid by the defendant's insurance company policy limits.

We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. The agreement ensures you only pay upfront fees once your attorney resolves your claim through a negotiated settlement or jury award.


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Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
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