blog home Truck Accidents What Happens if a Truck Company Erases a Driver’s Tracking Data After an Accident?

What Happens if a Truck Company Erases a Driver’s Tracking Data After an Accident?

By Butler Prather LLP on August 29, 2022

There are various types of evidence that could be gathered and used in the aftermath of a truck accident to help prove liability for the incident. Some of this evidence revolves around the truck’s “black box” and GPS data. GPS systems are fairly common on larger commercial trucks these days, and they are often requested as part of an investigation into a truck accident. But what happens if the truck company erases the black box or GPS data before the investigation can begin?

Spoliation of Evidence Related to the Crash

One of the first things that an attorney will do when they help clients of commercial truck accidents is send a letter of spoliation to the truck driver, the trucking carrier, and any legal team representing potential at-fault parties. A letter of spoliation is sent to remind these parties that the destruction of any evidence or the failure to preserve evidence related to the pending litigation should not occur.

When a trucking company, truck driver, or other potential at-fault party proceeds to destroy evidence or fails to preserve evidence, these actions could be taken as a sign of bad faith and be used against them when it comes to the civil claim related to the accident.

This includes any erasure of tracking data related to the truck or the driver. Large commercial trucks typically have various devices that measure data related to travel. This includes the electronic control module (ECM) and the electronic logging device (ELD).

The ECM is the “black box” of the truck, and it usually records GPS data and various other vehicle diagnostics. This could include how quickly the driver used the brakes before the collision or near collision, the speed of the vehicle, whether or not a turn signal was engaged, etc.

The ELD is what keeps track of the driver’s operating hours. Every commercial truck is required to have an ELD installed, and these replaced the traditional paper log books that drivers used to carry. The ELD can help investigators understand whether or not a truck driver was operating the vehicle while fatigued and if they took an adequate amount of breaks and rest time as required by state and federal law.

How GPS and Black Box Data Helps a Case

All of the data stored on various devices inside of a commercial truck could help piece together evidence of what caused the incident. Sometimes, the evidence at the scene of the crash makes it fairly clear what happened, but that is not always the case. Black box data, the ELD, and GPS data could help accident reconstruction experts and law enforcement officials understand whether or not the actions of the driver or the trucking company played a role in causing the crash.

That is why, in some cases, truck drivers or trucking companies may work to discard this evidence before it comes to light. However, doing so could end up jeopardizing their claim by painting them in an unsavory light as a result of the evidence destruction.

It is crucial for any commercial truck crash victim to work with a skilled Atlanta personal injury attorney who can help them recover evidence and compensation.

Posted in: Truck Accidents

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