Electronic Evidence in Truck Wreck Claims
The truck driver shortage is reaching crisis proportions. In 2020, there were 80,000 fewer drivers to haul and ever-increasing amount of cargo. As a result, many truckers are new and have little experience behind the wheel. These drivers must not only operate massive vehicles. They must also navigate through unfamiliar areas, typically using a hand-held GPS navigation device. These two factors often create crashes which cause catastrophic injuries.
Some of these injuries include serious burns and head injuries. Diesel fuel and ordinary gasoline burn at different temperatures. Additionally, due to the size of a fully-loaded large truck, even the most sophisticated restraint system cannot possibly absorb all the force in these wrecks.
These wrecks are usually complex, and not just because of the serious injuries they cause. Frequently, an out-of-state shipping, transportation, or other company is financially responsible for damages. So, only an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney should handle these claims. Victims who go with an inexperienced lawyer often end up settling for less money than they need and deserve.
Solid evidence is usually the key to a successful truck accident claim. Increasingly, electronic evidence is critical in these claims, particularly in certain types of cases.
Event Data Recorder
An EDR is a lot like the black box flight data recorder that commercial jets carry. Almost all vehicles on the road, whether they are commercial or noncommercial, have an EDR. Typically, these gadgets measure and record information like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Brake application, and
- Engine RPM.
Any one of these numbers could help victims obtain maximum compensation in a truck crash claim. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Unfortunately, this critical evidence is not always available. Florida has very restrictive vehicle data privacy laws. Therefore, attorneys must usually convince judges to issue court orders before they can inspect and download EDR data.
That’s assuming the EDR is available at all. Usually, insurance companies destroy totaled vehicles within a matter of days. If that happens, any physical evidence the vehicle contained, including the EDR, is lost.
To prevent that from happening, attorneys send spoliation letters to insurance companies. These letters create a legal obligation to preserve any potential physical evidence, including the EDR, for a future trial.
Electronic Logging Device
EDRs are often significant in any kind of truck crash. ELDs provide important evidence in drowsy driver claims.
There is a direct relationship between operator fatigue and the risk of a crash. Driving after eighteen hours without sleep is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for commercial operators in Florida.
Before the ELD mandate took effect, truck drivers usually keep track of their HOS (Hours of Service) in paper log books which were easy to fabricate. ELDs are connected to the truck’s drivetrain. So, while the vehicle is in motion, the internal HOS clock is ticking. In other words, ELDs provide essentially bulletproof evidence of fatigued operation.
There are technical issues. Large truck ELDs are extremely sophisticated and delicate devices. A lawyer needs much more than a laptop and a screwdriver to access the data they contain. This data is virtually unassailable in court. If the device was working correctly, a computer is never incorrect or biased.
Reach Out to a Savvy Lawyer
Electronic evidence could make or break a truck crash claim. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa truck accident lawyer, contact Mark H. Wright, PLLC. Home, virtual, and hospital visits are available.