Act quickly to make sure electronic evidence is presevered
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, there’s a very important reason that you should contact an attorney as quickly as possible: the need to preserve evidence.
Once your attorney notifies the trucking company or its insurer about the possibility of a lawsuit and provides a protective order from the court, the trucking company has an obligation to preserve any evidence that could help investigators understand what caused the accident and who was at fault.
One of the most important pieces of evidence that needs to be preserved is the Electronic Control Module (ECM), also known as the “black box” of the truck.
ECMs started out as a device intended to catch invalid engine warranty claims — but they’ve become an important part of truck accident claims. They frequently provide pieces of information that can help fill in gaps in knowledge about the way the truck was operated, including how many hard stops the truck recently made and how fast the wheels were turning at the time.
ECM data can also be compared to the driver’s log, to see if the driving times recorded by the ECM match what the driver manually recorded. If the ECM data doesn’t match the driver’s records, it’s an indication that the company isn’t keeping its drivers in compliance with industry regulations — which could indicate that the driver of the truck was overworked and over-tired at the time of the accident.
Some trucking companies also keep a cab module that records corresponding dispatch and delivery information, which can sometimes yield clues about the truck’s hours of service and maintenance.
It’s important to get the ECM data and the cab module locked down as quickly as possible because they typically only preserve evidence for the last thirty days of use (or less, if the vehicle is older). If the truck was put back into service shortly after the accident, valuable information could be overwritten and lost forever.
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