Electronic Evidence in New York Truck Crash Cases

The fully-loaded semi-trucks that crisscross the New York metro area weigh at least 80,000 pounds. Furthermore, bureaucrats routinely grant waivers which allow shipping companies to pile even more weight onto these trucks. There’s more: these vehicles normally carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. This concoction burns at a different temperature from gasoline. So, many large truck crashes involve huge fireballs.

Because of these hazards, New York truck drivers have a higher duty of care than non-commercial drivers. For example, non-commercial drivers must be more alert at night. But truck drivers must drive more slowly at night.

The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in a negligence claim. So, the victim/plaintiff must have evidence. Generally, there’s a direct relationship between the amount of evidence and the number of damages. In other words, the more evidence a victim has, the more compensation a jury will probably award.


Event Data Recorder

Many people know that commercial jets have black box flight recorders. Investigators use these gadgets to help determine the cause of a crash. But many people do not know that large trucks have EDRs, and New York personal injury attorneys use these gadgets to establish liability for damages.

Device capability varies according to make and model of truck. But generally, the EDR captures and records things like:

  • Brake application,
  • Engine RPM,
  • Steering angle, and
  • Vehicle speed.

Numbers like these are very important in vehicle collisions claims. If the information comes from an EDR, that’s even better. Assuming the device was working properly, it is almost impossible for insurance company lawyers to successfully challenge this evidence in court.

But it is not all wine and roses. Typically, insurance companies destroy wrecked vehicles a few days after a collision. If that happens, any physical evidence, including the EDR, is gone forever.

So, a Manhattan car accident attorney must act quickly and send a spoliation letter to the insurance company or truck custodian. This letter creates a legal duty to preserve any potential evidence, including the EDR. If the insurance company ignores the letter and “accidentally” destroys evidence, most judges impose harsh penalties on violators.

Additionally, New York has very strong vehicle data privacy laws. Generally, only the vehicle owner or an authorized representative can access EDR information. Therefore, a Manhattan auto accident attorney usually needs a court order to proceed with this phase of evidence collection.


Electronic Logging Devices in Manhattan

There’s a good reason the trucking industry fought long and hard to prevent the ELD mandate from going into effect. These gadgets make it much easier to establish fatigued driving in truck crash cases. Drowsiness is a serious problem. Most shipping companies pay drivers by the load, so they have a financial incentive to stay on the road as long as possible.

Prior to the spring of 2018, drivers used manual log books to comply with HOS (hours of service) requirements. These log books were easy to fake. But ELD’s are connected to the truck’s power train. So, they provide irrefutable evidence regarding working times and resting times.

Sometimes, victim/plaintiffs do not even need ELD’s to establish drowsiness. Most people are naturally sleepy early in the morning or late at night, no matter how much rest they had the night before.


Contact a Manhattan Car Accident Attorney

Substantial compensation is available in truck crash cases, and a Manhattan car accident attorney must present evidence to collect these damages. For a free consultation with an experienced Manhattan car accident lawyer in New York, contact Michael J. Redenburg Esq. P.C. We routinely handle matters in Queens County and nearby jurisdictions.