Electronic Evidence Issues in Truck Crash Claims

David Monteleone
Illinois Accident and Wrongful Death Lawyer

  Posted  |  Category : Truck Accidents

Truck Crash AttorneyA fully-loaded large truck may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Regulators routinely allow much larger vehicles to travel on the road. These massive vehicles often cause catastrophic injuries, such as wrongful death. As a result, some traditional evidence sources may not be available.

The police accident report is a good example. If the victim was seriously injured or killed, these reports are often incomplete or inaccurate. Even the most experienced first responder is not an accident reconstruction professional. Additionally, the narrative portion of the report obviously contains only one side of the story.

A Rockford truck crash lawyer often needs additional evidence to establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Frequently, electronic evidence is available.

Types of Electronic Evidence

When commercial jets crash, investigators often look at the information in the black box flight data recorder to determine what went wrong. Large trucks have their own “black boxes.” Event Data Recorders (EDR) measure and store critical crash-centric information like:

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

Large truck EDRs are technically sophisticated gadgets. Attorneys must have the right kind of expertise, and the right kinds of tools, to access and download this information. That’s assuming EDR information is available at all.

Additionally, all semi-trucks contain Electronic Logging Devices (ELD). Prior to the advent of ELDs, truckers kept track of HOS (Hours of Service) matters in paper logbooks. These records, which manually recorded work hours and rest hours, were easy to fake.

But ELDs are connected to the vehicle’s drive train. They provide conclusive evidence in these situations. Both the federal government and the State of Illinois have strict rules in this area. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who violate these rules and cause crashes may be responsible for damages as a matter of law. These gadgets are quite sophisticated and difficult to work with.

In some cases, additional electronic evidence, such as dashcam footage, may be available as well. This evidence could be critical in distracted driving claims.

Legal Issues and Electronic Evidence

Availability is key about both EDRs and ELDs. Generally, after a serious wreck, insurance companies destroy the wrecked vehicles within a few days. If that happens, any electronic evidence they contain is lost forever.

To prevent that from happening, attorneys send spoliation letters to insurance companies. These letters create a legal duty to preserve all possible physical evidence in the case, including the ELD and EDR.

Illinois has very strict vehicle data privacy laws. Generally, attorneys must request hearings and obtain court orders before they can inspect and download electronic information.

These additional hoops are troublesome and time-consuming, but they are worth the effort. Winnebago County jurors are tech-savvy individuals. Electronic evidence usually resonates very well with them. Additionally, assuming the gadgets were working properly, insurance company lawyers usually cannot successfully challenge electronic evidence. Computers are never biased and never wrong, so their testimony is always reliable.

Connect with Assertive Attorneys

Truck crashes often involve complex proof issues. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.