Tractor-trailer trucks and other large commercial vehicles are often equipped with several computers that collect data and help the trucking company track service hours, monitor driving, and otherwise oversee their drivers and trucks. When it comes to accidents, these computers—especially the “black box” that records what happens to the vehicle and its components—can help the trucking company, victims, and a jury understand what happened.
The black box data is just one piece of this puzzle, but it is often crucial in getting a good idea of the contributing factors in a crash. If you have been in an accident, your personal injury attorney will likely seek to preserve and analyze this data through a spoliation letter sent to the trucking company early in the case.
Getting Fair Compensation for Your Truck Accident Injuries
There’s no such thing as a “minor” semi-truck accident. Even when there are no serious injuries or property damage, a crash with an 18-wheeler is always a traumatic experience. However, when injuries happen in a commercial truck accident, they are often severe – and passenger vehicle occupants tend to suffer the worst of the impact. Reviewing the contents of an event data recorder can give them the evidence they need to prove who or what is at fault for their injuries.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 4,119 people died in large truck accidents in 2019. Only 16 percent of those fatalities were truck occupants. Sixty-seven percent were occupants in passenger vehicles. The other 15 percent were motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
If a negligent truck driver injured you, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for medical bills, lost income, mental anguish, and other damages. To recover damages, you or a truck crash lawyer must prove negligence, liability, and damages.
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What Role does Black Box Data Play in a Truck Accident Case?
One of the most important pieces of evidence in a truck accident injury claim is black box data. The black box, also known as an electronic control module or electronic data recorder, tracks important information such as:
- Hours on the road
- A crash’s duration
- The vehicle’s location before a crash
- Vehicle speed limits
- Average speed
- Seat belt use
- Airbag use
- Tire pressure
- Sudden braking or brake use
All this data and much more can help determine what happened in various kinds of crashes, such as:
- Head-on collisions
- T-bone accidents
- Rear-end accidents
- Rollover truck accidents
- Truck jackknife accidents
If the black box data shows the truck driver behaved recklessly or violated state or federal laws, your truck accident lawyer can use this evidence to support your compensation claim. In addition to black box data, your lawyer may use the following evidence to help you recover the highest possible compensation:
- The police report
- Medical records and doctor’s notes
- Eyewitness testimonies
- Testimonies from medical experts, financial experts, and accident reconstruction experts
- Timelines, illustrations, and photographs
- Inspection and maintenance records
- Fuel and lodging receipts
- Evidence of prior violations by the trucker or trucking company
You should take legal action as soon as possible after your collision. The at-fault party may try to destroy evidence by erasing black box data, repairing the vehicle quickly, or falsifying logbooks to conceal non-compliance.
A New Orleans truck accident attorney from the Morris Bart law office will help you gather evidence and fight for a fair settlement. If your case goes to trial, our attorneys have the litigation experience to represent your interests in court.
Obtaining Black Box Data and Other Evidence
To preserve evidence in the hands of the trucking company, your law firm will need to draft and send a notice of spoliation. This makes the trucking company legally responsible for ensuring the preservation of all potential evidence they have in the case.
Because of the rules and regulations placed on truck drivers and their employers, there is often a lot of evidence in these cases, such as:
- Data from onboard computers
- Written logbooks
- Dashcam video
- Post-accident drug and alcohol testing
- The trucker’s driving record
- The trucker’s employment and training record
- Proof of previous issues with the tractor or trailer
- The driver’s medical exams and other proof of medical concerns
- Other evidence that could play a role in proving your case
What Damages Are Recoverable After a Truck Accident?
If a drunk, distracted, or negligent driver injured you in Louisiana, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills
- Rehabilitation expenses (e.g., physical therapy)
- Property damage
- Income you lost while recovering from your injuries
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Loss of consortium for your spouse
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Wrong death damages (e.g., funeral and burial expenses and medical expenses, if your loved one suffered fatal injuries in a trucking accident)
If your crash happened because the truck driver was driving while intoxicated, you also may be entitled to exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages. However, these damages are rarely awarded.
In a truck accident case, Louisiana law recognizes respondeat superior under La. Civ. Code Art. 2320. This allows negligent commercial drivers’ victims to pursue damages from the individual driver and hold the driver’s employer vicariously liable. When it comes to insurance claims or lawsuits, this means you will name the trucking company as a liable party and file against their insurance company or the corporation directly.
This could mean you are pursuing damages based on a large corporate liability insurance policy instead of an individual’s auto liability policy. Corporate policies generally offer much larger limits and may be more suitable for covering the significant damages you suffered in a serious truck accident.
Other Parties that Can Be Liable in a Truck Accident Case
Black box data can also show other parties to be liable for a truck crash. For example, if the truck driver failed to brake in time to avoid an accident, brake failure could be the reason. This could mean responsible parties could include the manufacturer of the brakes or the repair shop that failed to fix the brakes properly. Truck accident victims can seek to hold any person or entity liable if they can show how each contributed to or caused their accident. These parties can also include:
- The commercial trucking company that hired the driver or owns the truck
- The truck manufacturer
- The cargo loading crew
- Another motorist or a road user (e.g., a pedestrian)
- A government entity responsible for the site where the accident happened
We will identify all liable parties in your case and seek all compensatory damages from each in your truck accident lawsuit. We believe victims of truck accidents deserve all the compensation they need to recover from these devastating accidents.
Speak to an Attorney from Morris Bart, LLC About Your Case for Free
If you were hurt in an 18-wheeler wreck that another driver caused, turn to the Morris Bart law firm. We provide free case assessments, during which we will answer your questions and explain our services. We can also determine if black box data is important in your truck accident and how we will handle this critical piece of evidence.
These consultations are confidential and come with no obligation. We will not charge you for anything until your case is closed. We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if you win your case. Our service area includes Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
A truck crash lawyer in New Orleans will help you fight for fair compensation. Call us today for a free initial consultation.
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