Electronic Evidence in Truck Crash Claims
Frequently, the police accident report is the cornerstone of the victim/plaintiff’s evidence in a vehicle collision claim. But that’s not always true.
Even the most experienced emergency responder is not an accident reconstruction professional. Instead, first responders do the best they can with the limited information available at the time. Furthermore, if the victim was seriously injured or killed, the police accident report may be incomplete or inaccurate. In these situations, the report obviously contains only one side of the story.
There are two lessons here. First, even if the police say you were at fault, always have a Los Angeles personal injury attorney evaluate your case. Second, following most truck accidents, attorneys must look elsewhere for the evidence they need.
Types of Electronic Evidence
Most large trucks have Event Data Recorders. EDRs are a lot like the black box flight recorders in commercial jets. Capacity varies by make and model, but generally, EDRs capture and record information like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Engine RPM, and
- Brake application.
This evidence could be extremely valuable in almost all vehicle collision claims. However, these devices are technically sophisticated. A lawyer needs the right tools and knowledge to access the information. You need a lot more than a screwdriver and a laptop. There are some other EDR issues as well, which are discussed below.
Moreover, all large trucks have Electronic Logging Devices. Trucking industry lawyers fought the ELD mandate all the way to the Supreme Court. They know what a game-changer the ELD can be in drowsy truck driver claims.
ELDs provide information about Hours of Service (HOS) compliance. Both California and the federal government have very strict rules about things like mandatory rest periods. Truckers who violate these laws and cause crashes may be responsible for damages as a matter of law.
For various reasons, fatigued driving is a serious problem among long-haul truck drivers. For example, most companies pay drivers by the load and not by the mile. Therefore, these truckers must stay behind the wheel as long as possible in order to make money.
Legal Issues Involved
ELectronic evidence resonates very well with tech-savvy jurors. Additionally, most Los Angeles County courtrooms have HD monitors and other advanced display equipment. So, electronic evidence is even more compelling.
Additionally, assuming the gadgets were working properly, it’s almost impossible for insurance company lawyers to successfully challenge electronic evidence. Computers are never biased and never mistaken.
This proof is not always available. Frequently, insurance companies destroy totaled vehicles within a few days. If that happens, both the ELD and EDR are gone forever. So, attorneys must quickly send spoliation letters to insurance companies. These letters create a legal duty to preserve all potential physical evidence.
Moreover, California has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. Typically, attorneys must obtain specific kinds of court orders to access, download, and use electronic data.
There is a lot at stake. Damages in a truck crash claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Generally, the company that owned the truck is legally and financially responsible for these damages, under the respondeat superior rule.
Truck crash claims often involve complex evidentiary and legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Beverly Hills, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. Home and hospital visits are available.
Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.