While being involved in a trucking accident is scary, what can be equally as frightening is learning that the trucking company has the right to destroy critical evidence about the accident without breaking the law. Many people wonder if this could really be true, and unfortunately, it is. Here’s what you need to know about the “truck black box” and how it could affect your case, as well as what you can do to protect the evidence and your rights after an accident.
What Is the Truck Black Box?
Since the 1990’s, every commercial truck has been outfitted with a “black box,” similar to one you might find on an airplane. The real name for this device is an Electronic Control Module (ECM) and its purpose is to record different types of data during the operation of the vehicle. For example, the ECM may record whether the driver was wearing his or her seat belt, how fast the truck was going, or how many hours the truck has been driven consecutively. As one might suspect, this information can be very valuable in a truck accident case.
Destroying ECM Data
The current laws state that data contained on an ECM is the property of the trucking company. Legally, the trucking company can destroy this data immediately after a truck accident if they choose to do so, and typically they will. Unless the ECM data is subject to a court order that prevents it from being destroyed, such as in a personal injury lawsuit, the trucking company is acting well within their rights when they destroy or erase the data recorded by the ECM.
ECM’s Record Over Themselves
Even if a trucking company does not destroy the data contained on the ECM after an accident, an ECM will generally record over itself after a period of 30 days, meaning that the truck black boxes can only hold 30 days of data. If the data is not retrieved before 30 days pass, new information will be recorded over the old and the old information will be lost.
Why Contact an Attorney Right Away
Although your primary concern after being involved in a truck accident is healing and recovery, losing the critical data contained on the ECM about the accident could compromise your injury claim. Without this data, the trucking company may be able to offer you a significantly reduced settlement or in some cases, they may not have to offer you a settlement at all. By contacting an experienced South Carolina truck accident lawyer, you can move quickly to protect the data that could prove to be important to your case from destruction.
At Guest & Brady LLC, we have successfully represented numerous clients who have been the victim of truck accidents, and we are able to provide you with seasoned legal help. We will do everything within our power to protect truck black box ECM data and obtain it for use in your case.
Contact us today, or call us at 864-233-7200, for a consultation. We will discuss the accident and give you our recommended next steps.