Black Boxes and Commercial Truck Wrecks in Virginia
The development of electronic recording devices that are required in many tractor trailers on the road today has added a level of complexity to trucking accident litigation but also holds many benefits for those seeking the truth about the cause of collisions involving big rigs. The black boxes or electronic data collection devices often hold the secrets that unlock the mystery of why a wreck occurred. Such things as the speed of the vehicle, the application of brakes and other key data can be obtained from the computer in many circumstances where such things used to be unknown and often unknowable.
The trick now is to quickly recognize the circumstances where a case is serious enough to warrant hiring the necessary experts to secure and extract the electronic data. This is one reason why it makes sense to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who knows about truck accidents if you or a loved one has been seriously injured or even killed in an accident which may be fault of a truck driver. The problem is that the way that this data works is that it must be obtained in a certain way by certain specialists in order to be preserved. If the truck gets rebooted or fixed or disposed of before the information has been obtained then it may be forever lost. Under some circumstances the insurance company for the trucking outfit may have less incentive to figure out if there is electronic data available and to preserve it than the person who was hit by the tractor trailer.
I suggest that if you are involved in a significant accident with injuries where a truck is potentially the at‑fault party then you need to go ahead and hire an attorney with the knowledge and resources necessary to quickly secure all black box data. Normally the way that it works in my office is that I write a letter to the attorneys and insurance companies for the trucking company saying give me access to this data and preserve it. They will often give me a very short period of time in order to have my expert come and look at the vehicle and inspect it for black box data as well as other mechanical issues before they either dispose of the salvage or repair the vehicle and put it back into service in their fleet. So I need to be prepared with my list of experts and ready to pay them the money necessary to go out on your behalf and make sure to find out just how fast that truck was going and the other crucial facts which may be available for a limited period of time right after the wreck.
If you don’t have a black box showing exactly what the speed was then you’re left with, the truck driver who might have incentive to fudge or even outright lie about how fast they were driving when the ran into the back of your vehicle. For example, they might just say I don’t really know how fast I was going. Most drivers are less likely to lie if they think that you’ve got objective verifiable proof of how fast they were going. The black boxes really have changed a lot for the better in personal injury litigation involving tractor trailers because after all the main thing to find out is what really happened.