Electronic Evidence in Truck Crash Claims
When fully loaded, the large trucks that crisscross Hillsborough County weigh over 80,000 pounds. Even experienced drivers have a hard time controlling these massive vehicles. In collisions, the vehicle weight, combined with the massive amount of diesel fuel, often causes catastrophic injuries.
A Brandon personal injury attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases. But for that to happen, the victim/plaintiff needs substantial evidence. The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in these claims. Additionally, there is often a direct relationship between the amount of evidence and the amount of damages.
Traditional sources, like medical bills, the police accident report, and witness statements, often provide much of the necessary proof. So, electronic evidence either fills in the gaps or pushes the case over the top proof-wise. Either way, these sources are invaluable.
Event Data Recorder
Almost all large trucks have EDRs. These gadgets are much like the black box flight data recorders in commercial jets. EDRs capture and record information like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Brake application, and
- Engine RPM.
This information is often critical in car crash claims. Furthermore, this evidence is essentially bulletproof. Provided the device was working properly, it is almost impossible for insurance company lawyers to successfully challenge computer data. Eyewitnesses may be biased or have poor viewing angles, but computers never have such issues.
However, this valuable evidence is not easy to obtain.
Florida has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. So, attorneys usually need court orders to access and download the information on EDRs.
That’s assuming an attorney has the proper resources. Large vehicle EDRs are complex pieces of machinery. It takes more than a screwdriver and a laptop to tap into them.
That’s also assuming the EDR is still available for more than a few days after the crash. If the large truck was totaled, as is often the case in serious collisions, most insurance companies will destroy it almost immediately. If that happens, the EDR, and any other physical evidence on the truck, is gone forever.
To prevent this outcome, attorneys send spoliation letters to insurance companies. These letters create a legal duty to preserve all physical evidence in the case, including the EDR. Insurance companies who ignore this duty face stiff legal penalties as well as the ire of the judge hearing the case.
Electronic Logging Device
EDRs are useful in almost all truck crash claims. ELDs are often critical in drowsy driving claims.
Fatigue is very common among long-haul truck drivers. Most shipping companies pay drivers by the load, and not by the mile. So, to make money, drivers must stay behind the wheel as long as possible. Additionally, because they sit for such long periods, many truckers have sleep apnea. People with this condition basically nap all night. They never get deep, restorative sleep.
Trucking industry lawyers fought the ELD mandate all the way to the Supreme Court, because they know these devices make it much easier to prove drowsy driving claims. These gadgets keep an electronic record of HOS (Hours of Service) compliance. So, there is bulletproof evidence in this area.
The aforementioned issues with EDR evidence also apply to ELDs. Privacy laws protect the electronic information in these sophisticated devices. And, unless a lawyer acts quickly, the insurance company may “accidentally” destroy the ELD.
Rely on Experienced Attorneys
Electronic evidence may make a big difference in a damage claim. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).