A fatal trucking accident which occurred on May 14, 2013 in Shreveport, Louisiana remains under investigation. Two eighteen-wheelers were traveling eastbound on Interstate 20 when one driver apparently rear-ended the other. The driver in the back truck had to be cut free from his vehicle, and emergency responders pronounced him dead at the scene of the accident. While in many rear-end crashes the vehicle which collides with the vehicle in front is deemed to be responsible for the accident, this is not always the case. In some instances, the actions of the front vehicle make it impossible for the other vehicle to avoid a rear-end collision. When a following driver confronts a vehicle suddenly and unexpectedly in his path, through no fault of the following driver, Louisiana law gives the following driver a right to recover damages based upon the “sudden emergency” doctrine.
Additionally, contributing factors such as improperly functioning equipment, driver fatigue, driver negligence or inattention and even intoxicated driving can add to the difficulty in determining fault. In many instances, it can be difficult to prove fault in a trucking accident and attorneys can face significant challenges. In this particular instance and in most trucking accidents, one of the most powerful allies for victims of the crash could well be the Event Data Recorder, or as most people know it, the “black box.”
The commercial truck EDR is comparable to those found on jet airplanes and is designed to capture and record truck operations data. An Event Data Recorder is generally defined as a device installed in a vehicle to record technical vehicle and occupant information for a brief period of time before, during, and after a crash occurs. Congress is currently considering a Federal law which would require all commercial trucks to have EDR’s, ’, primarily as a means of targeting those drivers who routinely exceed Federal hours of service rules. These black boxes are usually set to record truck driving data for thirty days, then they start over. Some of the items an EDR measures include:
- The rpm of the truck engine prior to the accident, which could indicate acceleration on the part of the driver
- Vehicle speed five seconds prior to impact
- Brake usage five seconds prior to impact
- Gear selection and/or clutch application
- Engine malfunction information
- Steering angle
- Low oil pressure
- Coolant loss
- Cruise control status
- Idle time
- Average travel speeds
- Change in velocity for up to three seconds after the impact
- Whether the driver of the truck wore a safety belt
- Whether the driver and passenger front airbags deployed
- The number of crash events
- Whether the EDR completed the recording of the crash
There is often conflicting testimony between the truck driver and the injured parties, particularly in such areas as speed, acceleration and braking. While much of the disparity can be attributed to protecting one’s own interests, accidents can happen so quickly that it can honestly be difficult to remember the exact sequence of events. Black box evidence is usually admissible in court and can be invaluable in proving negligence on the part of the truck driver or trucking company. Although there have been challenges to the black box evidence in court, they have mostly all been given little or no credence. Accident reconstruction is also an important part of any truck accident lawsuit. While the black box can tell you what the truck was doing immediately prior to the accident, if the truck is equipped with an anti-collision system radar details concerning other drivers may also be recorded. It may be necessary for the attorney for the victim to obtain a court order which ensures that the truck is not tampered with prior to inspection and that the black box evidence is properly preserved.
Trucking Accidents Change Lives
Survivors of trucking accidents often find their lives are changed forever. The injuries sustained are likely to be extremely grave, requiring months, years, or even a lifetime of medical procedures and rehabilitation. Permanent disabilities are common results of trucking accidents. Of course the medical expenses and lost wages associated with such serious injuries are also likely to be huge. Victims of trucking accidents may feel like they have nowhere to turn, and that there is nobody on their side to fight a huge trucking company with seemingly unlimited resources. In addition to dealing with pain, ongoing therapy, medical treatment and the inability to work and support a family, the truck accident victim must take steps to protect and prosecute their legal claims against the trucking company to recoup their losses.
The Koederitz Law Firm Looks Out for Victims of Trucking Accident Collisions
The valuable data from the black box is only one reason that the victim of a trucking accident should consult with an experienced attorney.. Trucking accidents are full of complexities not seen in collisions between passenger vehicles, primarily due to the number of potential defendants as well as the black box data. Gary P. Koederitz at Koederitz Law Firm wants to ensure that your rights and your future are fully protected, and he will fight aggressively to that end. Call (225) 295-9494 today for a free and comprehensive evaluation of your trucking accident case.