How Does a Black Box Help Prove Fault in a Truck Accident?

Lou Pendas

Legally reviewed by Lou Pendas on November 16, 2022 Lou Pendas is a member of the 1-800-Injured network.

Many people are familiar with the term “black box” as it relates to airplanes, a device that teams work to locate following a crash in order to help determine what went wrong. Did you know that black boxes are also installed in some commercial trucks?

In the trucking industry, these devices are formally called event data recorders (EDRs). Like their aviation counterparts, EDRs can help investigators understand what happened in the moments leading up to a crash. In some cases, they may even help to prove who was at fault.

Here’s a closer look at how black boxes work in trucks and how they can be used in accident investigations:

What Is a Black Box?

A black box is a data recorder that captures information about the vehicle and its occupants in the moments leading up to and during a crash. This data can include everything from speed and braking to seat belt usage and airbag deployment.

In trucks, EDRs are often mounted on the dashboard or near the center console. They’re designed to record data during a collision, and they can be extremely helpful in accident investigations.

How Do Black Boxes Help Prove Fault?

EDRs can provide valuable information that can help to determine who was at fault in a truck accident. For example, if the EDR shows that the truck driver was speeding or braking hard in the moments before the crash, that driver may be held liable.

In some cases, EDR data may help to disprove a truck driver’s version of events. For instance, if a driver claims that he or she was not speeding at the time of the accident, but the EDR data shows otherwise, that driver may be less likely to be believed by investigators.

In addition, EDR data can help to identify mechanical issues that may have contributed to the accident. If a truck’s brakes were not functioning properly, for example, that failure could be captured by the EDR and used as evidence in the investigation. The EDR will show any errors or codes that were showing up in the vehicle at the time of the collision, which will help investigators — and your truck accident lawyers — piece together the details of the incident while determining fault.

EDRs can be an extremely valuable tool in accident investigations, but it’s important to note that they’re not always accurate. In some cases, EDR data may be corrupted or lost entirely. For this reason, it’s important to have an experienced truck accident attorney on your side who can help to ensure that the data is properly preserved and interpreted.

Common Information Gathered by an EDR

An EDR won’t have in-cab footage of the truck driver (although there are a number of monitoring platforms that do gather this useful information), but there is a lot of information that will be present that can help support your case and clarify details that may otherwise be obscured. This includes information like:

  • Vehicle speed
  • GPS coordinates
  • Steering wheel and tire orientation
  • Application and intensity of brakes
  • Whether or not the driver was wearing a seatbelt
  • The average speed during the trip

Sure, the EDR won’t come right out and say “the accident was caused by a speeding trucker who was driving recklessly to make a late delivery,” but a diligent attorney can piece this information together by reviewing the driver’s average speed, their route, the speed and angle of their turns, and ultimately the speed they were traveling when they collided with you.

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. 1-800-Injured is an attorney and medical referral service that connects accident victims with the legal and medical help they need. We can connect you with an experienced truck accident attorney in your area who can help you understand your rights and options and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Seeking Compensation for a Truck Accident in Florida

Once your attorney has proven fault using data from the EDR — as well as your account of the collision, the trucker’s own account of events, and any information provided by third-party observers or video footage — the next step is to calculate the damages you are entitled to recover as a result of your involvement.

There is no set formula for determining damages, which is one reason why insurance companies are so successful at lowballing accident victims. They know that many people are not sure how to calculate their damages, so they offer a settlement that sounds like a lot of money but is actually far less than what the victim is entitled to.

Your attorney will work with you to calculate your damages, including both economic and non-economic losses.

Economic Damages

These are the financial losses you have suffered as a direct result of your accident and injuries. This can include things like:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and future earnings
  • Property damage

There are countless other economic damages that a detail-oriented lawyer will help you identify and calculate while determining the total amount you are rightfully owed.

Non-Economic Damages

These are the intangible losses you have suffered as a result of your accident and injuries. These types of damages do not have dollar values associated with them, and require additional calculations to determine their fair value. These damages can include things like:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship or consortium

As you can imagine, trying to determine a dollar amount for something as abstract and subjective as “emotional distress” can feel nearly impossible, especially while you are going through the process of dealing with the distress, but an experienced lawyer can take on this challenge while you focus on getting the support you need.

Punitive Damages

In some cases, punitive damages may also be available. These are damages that are awarded by a judge and/or jury at the end of a trial, as a way to punish the at-fault party for their negligence. Punitive damages are rare in Florida truck accident cases, but may be available in trials involving particularly egregious misconduct, and the information recovered from the black box may support evidence of this behavior.

The best way to improve your chances of recovering the full amount of compensation you deserve is to work with an experienced truck accident attorney who knows how to build a strong case and negotiate with insurance companies. 1-800-Injured can help you find an attorney in your area who has experience handling truck accident cases. Call us today for a free consultation.