Most, if not all, heavy trucks traveling on the roads of Georgia have an electronic control module (an ECM), popularly known as a black box. For fans of CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), the black box in a truck is a forensic investigator’s dream and a truck driver/employer’s nightmare. This is because the ECM contains independent objective concrete evidence that can be downloaded by a computer program and analyzed to determine and pinpoint the exact actions or omissions of the truck driver, which proximately caused or led to serious injuries or death of innocent victims.
The ECM in a commercial truck contains four types of data: fault data; historical data; calibration data; and event data. This data can be extremely important to establish fault against the truck driver and his/her employer. Once this data is analyzed and interpreted by an accident reconstructionist expert, it can become admissible into evidence at trial. While the truck driver may fib or outright lie at trial to save his job, reputation or assets, the driver can’t escape the truth hidden within the electronic control module. The ECM is not biased and does not have a financial interest in the outcome of litigation; rather, the ECM is one of the strongest tools a plaintiff’s attorney can utilize to extract the truth, which will help you to settle a case or win at trial.
Different trucks have different engines, and different engines have different ECMs that are configured in different ways. These differences mean that my heavy truck accident reconstruction expert must utilize the correct software for the specific manufacture of engine. Needless to say, ECM extraction is not cheap; however, experienced truck accident attorneys can locate and employ the most efficient, reputable experts to do the job right.
Depending on the make, model, year and engine, different ECMs will contain different data. Generally, the data on the black box may include hard brake data (the last stop prior to the collision), truck speed, engine RPM, brake usage, axle ratios, throttle and cruise on/off. After the data is downloaded by computer, it can printed in graph form and analyzed. Most data may center on a single event or the duration of the data may last over 60 seconds of truck operation.
Simply said, ECM data is useful and persuasive. However, ECM data is also fragile and, if an inexperienced individual makes an attempt, the data may be lost, damaged or deleted and reset by external power loss. In some instances, due to heavy property damage to the truck, access to the ECM may be difficult or impossible. Having witnessed many truck engine downloads and handled numerous truck accident cases as an experienced trucking accident attorney, the initial ECM download demands patience, time and can be a nerve wracking experience–somewhat akin to finding buried treasure.
The point is to contact a knowledgeable attorney immediately after any truck crash in order to secure access to evidence because in most cases, the employer or truck driver will want to repair the truck as soon as possible so that they can get the truck back on the road, transport goods and make money. In contrast, the victim of the truck wreck, wants time to thoroughly perform a physical examination of the truck, take photographs and download the ECM, among other items. In this adversarial game of chess, get an aggressive attorney to stand by your side, obtain the evidence in a timely and productive manner and get the job done right.
Trucking accidents are complex and the proper method to create a successful case include analysis of several different factors including federal trucking regulations, truck driver fatigue, negligent hiring/supervision/training of truck drivers by truck companies and defective equipment and load size.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of the negligence of a truck driver, it is critical to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible inasmuch as evidence on the roadway may deteriorate over time and logbooks are not kept secure and in evidence for an indefinite period. Negligence of a truck driver and his/her employer can result from alcohol/drug misuse, improper training, violation of hours of services regulations, violation of road rules, improper maintenance, improper equipment and weight restrictions, among others.
Georgia, as well as the federal government, has special laws that apply to trucks operating on the roads in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Frequently, these laws limit the number of hours that a truck driver can drive without resting, the weight of the load in the trailer and most other aspects of truck driving. Often, the violation of these laws by a truck driver and the trucking company is the reason for the cause of the truck accident. The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford frequently works with trucking experts to establish the cause and fault of the collision. If you are injured in a tractor trailer collision or truck accident in Georgia, Mr. Ford can help you receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries, lost earnings or wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting trucking accident cases throughout Georgia. Please contact us today for a free consultation.