Electronic Evidence in Large Truck Crash Claims
No one is sure what has caused the current truck driver shortage, but there is little doubt that it is real. To keep goods flowing, many transportation companies rely on large truck drivers with little driving experience. Probably not coincidentally, the number of fatal large truck collisions has increased significantly in recent years.
An NYC accident attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these claims. This compensation usually includes money for economic damages, such as medical bills, and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. Since victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in these claims, the evidence is critical. This proof sometimes comes from some unexpected sources.
Event Data Recorder
All semi-trucks have EDRs. These devices are much like the black box flight recorders inside commercial jets. Aviation investigators rely on black boxes to provide in-flight mechanical information, so they can determine the cause of the crash. Similarly, EDRs record mechanical information like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Engine acceleration or deceleration, and
- Brake application.
Capacity varies according to the type of EDR, but most of these gadgets record these basic items. These numbers are critical in many car crash claims.
Additionally, insurance company lawyers usually cannot successfully challenge this evidence in court. Unlike eyewitnesses, computers are never biased or incompetent, and their credibility can never be questioned.
Attorneys must work quickly to preserve this vital evidence. Unless a lawyer sends a spoliation letter within a few days of the crash, the insurance company may “accidentally” destroy the wrecked truck. If that happens, the EDR is gone forever.
Moreover, large truck EDRs are technologically sophisticated. An NYC car accident attorney must have the right kind of resources to take full advantage of EDR information.
Electronic Logging Device
Like the EDR, the ELD is a computer that’s connected to the vehicle’s internal components. But the ELD records hours of service (HOS). HOS figures are very important in fatigued truck driver crashes.
These kinds of crashes are quite common. Most shipping companies pay drivers by the load and not by the mile. Therefore, they must stay on the road as long as possible to make money. Additionally, since truck drivers sit for hours at a time, many of these individuals suffer from sleep apnea. People with this condition never fall into a deep sleep at night.
Non-ELD evidence of fatigue is also available. For example, most people are naturally drowsy at certain times of the day or night, no matter how much sleep they had the night before.
Also like the EDR, ELD evidence is almost irrefutable in court. Before these gadgets appeared, drivers recorded HOS in paper log books which were easy to fake. But the ELD is connected to the vehicle’s ignition. So, when the engine is running, the HOS clock is ticking.
As outlined above, attorneys must act quickly to preserve electronic evidence. Moreover, New York has very strict vehicle data privacy laws. Generally, only owners and authorized agents can access and download this electronic data. So, a lawyer typically needs a court order in these situations.
Contact an Aggressive Attorney
Electronic evidence is critical in many truck crash claims. For a free consultation with an experienced NYC personal injury lawyer, contact Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. P.C. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.
Eyewitnesses are often an integral part of a car crash claim. If independent witnesses corroborate the evidence the victim/plaintiff provides, many New York County jurors award higher damages. Furthermore, if the victim did not survive the crash, eyewitnesses may be indispensable.
But there are often issues. Some witnesses are incompetent. Perhaps they were not wearing required eyewear or they had a relationship to the victim. Other witnesses are unreliable. Perhaps they had a poor viewing angle or only saw part of the crash. Finally, all witnesses are imprecise. For example, they can testify that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was speeding, but they probably cannot testify to the tortfeasor’s exact speed.
A vehicle’s Event Data Recorder fills in all these gaps. Many people do not even know that their vehicles have such a device, which is much like the black box flight data recorder on large commercial jets. And, like black boxes help investigators determine what happened, EDRs help New York personal injury attorneys obtain maximum compensation.
Vehicle EDRs: Some Nuts and Bolts
Capacity varies in different makes and models of vehicles. But most EDRs measure and record information like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Brake application, and
- Engine RPM.
This kind of information is often vital in both ordinary negligence and negligence per se matters.
EDRs are technically sophisticated devices. That’s especially true in large truck and bus collisions. Attorneys need a great deal of expertise, along with the proper tools, to access them.
Unless an attorney acts quickly and decisively, there is a good chance this vital information may be unavailable.
Insurance companies often destroy totaled vehicles a few days after the crash. If that happens, any physical evidence the vehicle contains, including the EDR, will be lost forever.
To preserve such evidence, attorneys send spoliation letters to insurance companies. These letters create a legal duty to preserve all potential physical evidence. Insurance company lawyers know that they face stiff penalties, and the ire of the judge, if they ignore a spoliation letter.
Furthermore, New York has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. Generally, only the owner or a mechanic can download EDR data. So, an attorney normally must obtain a court order to get around these privacy laws.
In short, EDR information is hard to obtain. But it is almost irrefutable in court, since computers are never wrong if they are working properly. And, most jurors respond very well to technological evidence, so EDR information is usually very compelling.
Connect with a Diligent Attorney
Electronic evidence often makes a big difference in vehicle collision claims. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. P.C. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.
In over a decade of legal practice, Attorney Michael Redenburg began his career defending cases for the clients of insurance companies. Initially defending no-fault claims at a Long Island-based law firm, he then moved on to a Manhattan-based firm where he defended the clients of insurance carriers in an auto accident and premises liability matters.