A collision between a large truck and your regular passenger vehicle can be devastating. Sometimes weighing as much as 80,000 pounds, a truck has a significant weight advantage over your car or pickup, meaning that it can strike your vehicle with more force than you may be able to imagine.
Therefore, the damages resulting from a truck accident are likely to be significant. Nevertheless, it can sometimes be difficult to recover compensation due to the challenges involved in proving maintenance inadequacies by the trucking company and/or negligence on the part of the driver.
Fortunately, there is a tool that can help provide the evidence you need to prove your case. It is called an Electronic Control Module, also known as a “black box.” Like the black boxes on planes, an ECM records operational data relevant to your truck accident case, such as highest speed attained, time driven, overall average speed, amount of time traveling over 65 miles per hour, etc. Since the 1990s, most trucks manufactured and driven in the United States have black boxes.
Unfortunately, the trucking company knows how valuable the black box data is to your case and may try to destroy it. With the assistance of an attorney, you can take steps to preserve this data. It is important to act quickly, however, because an ECM in a truck usually only stores recorded data for a period of about 30 days. The steps to preserve black box data include the following:
- Limit movement of or access to the vehicle with a court order
- File a protective order to preserve the information contained in the black box
- Have the data read by a qualified company
- If applicable, seek data from the ECM of another truck that was following the one involved in the accident
Because most of these steps require action by the court, it is usually necessary to hire an attorney to advocate on your behalf and obtain the necessary orders in a timely fashion.