Most truck manufacturers these days equip their trucks with Electronic Control Modules, which many people often refer to as “little black boxes.” Though, according to FindLaw, the original purpose of these boxes was to protect trucking manufacturers against invalid warranty claims, an increasing number of personal injury attorneys have been using them to support their clients’ claims. This is because these black boxes record a host of operational data, including time driven, overall average speed, highest speed, seat belt usage, idling time, etc.
Though they provide a wealth of evidence in trucking accident cases, most states have established that ECMs are the property of the trucking companies, which means the companies have the right to keep or destroy the evidence as they please. If you are the victim of a truck accident, the destruction of the data could have adverse implications on your truck accident case. An experience lawyer, however, can move quickly to protect the ECM and the evidence it contains.
How an attorney can help preserve black box evidence
Despite the fact that ECM’s are typically property of the trucking companies, there are a few legal measures an attorney can take to protect the block box from destruction. The first is to either file an immediate protective order or to come to a written agreement with the trucking company. Either can help to ensure the preservation of black box data.
Immediately after filing a protective order or coming to an agreement, your lawyer should seek a court order to limit the movement of the truck while the case is pending. This step may involve figuring out who has possession of the truck in the first place. When requesting the court order, your attorney must specifically state that the order is for the retention of the ECM data and any other onboarding data the truck may contain. Finally, if the truck was immediately in front of or behind your vehicle, your attorney should try to extract ECM data from your vehicle as well.