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How an Inspection of an ECM Can Influence a Texas Truck Accident Claim

Posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2018 at 3:20 pm    

Everyone has heard of an airplane’s ‘black box,’ even if what it actually does remains somewhat mysterious to all who are not directly concerned with an airplane accident investigation. Black boxes are very strongly built and often survive horrendous accidents. They are even recovered from the seabed if a plane explodes in the air or for some reason sinks beneath the sea.

Airplane ‘black boxes’ are not actually black (they are orange!). They record vital information about plane speed, direction, fuel flow, altitude and cockpit conversations. They are normally stored in the tail of the plane where they are thought to be less likely to be damaged.

Truck Electronic Control Modules

A similar sort of device is now installed on most trucks, especially those that were manufactured after the mid 1990s. They are called Electronic Control Modules (ECMs). Access to data on them can prove crucial when you are fighting a truck driver’s or truck company’s insurance provider after a truck accident.

Truck ECMs store information for 30 days of truck operation. It is vital that you get hold of a truck ECM’s data as soon as possible after a truck accident in which you were injured. Truck companies are notorious for destroying any evidence that might implicate their drivers after an accident. This may include wiping data off the truck’s ECM if it is thought that it might reveal incriminating evidence about the driver’s negligent behavior that could have led to the truck crash.

This is the sort of data that is recorded on a truck ECM:

  • airbag usage
  • average RPMs within the engine
  • average speed
  • highest speed
  • time spent idling
  • total drive time
  • total drive time over 65 miles per hour
  • use of seat belts.

Truck accidents are typically the fault of the truck driver. Occasionally, a truck accident may be caused by a defective part or poor maintenance, but this is rare. Most accidents are caused by driver error, such as speeding, fatigue due to overlong hours behind the wheel, distracted driving, loss of control of the vehicle and intoxication or use of controlled drugs.

Not every accident cause can be determined by examination of a truck’s ECM data, but it can still be a useful source of evidence. The best advice is to contact a truck accident attorney in San Antonio as soon as your recovery allows you to do so. Recovery of the truck’s ECM must be done as soon as possible before data is wiped clean from it. It is the legal right for the truck owner to do this, but if a sub-poena is issued by your attorney for ECM data disclosure, the truck company must provide it. This also applies to any other information that might provide useful evidence of negligence in a truck crash.

Other evidence you may need for a personal injury claim

Truck accidents are usually serious. Anyone injured as a result of a truck crash will probably face expensive medical bills and may find they have to spend many days, weeks or months off work because of the injuries. A personal injury claim is possible if it can be proven that the truck driver was at fault or the truck driver’s employer was at fault through poor maintenance, defective parts or overloading.

The ECM, if it can be accessed before data is destroyed, can provide useful evidence but you may also need additional evidence. This might include photographs taken at the scene of the crash, witness statements from anyone who saw what happened, especially how the accident was caused and the police report. Your attorney can help obtain evidence by using a crash investigation expert to examine the crash data available including the data stored on the ECM.

If you have been the victim of a truck accident, you should contact a truck accident lawyer in San Antonio. You can make an appointment for a free consultation to discuss your legal options by phoning the office at 833-210-4878 today.


UPS Truck Accidents in Texas

Posted on Thursday, November 16th, 2017 at 11:20 pm    

Truck accidents cause more serious injuries and fatalities on U.S. highways than any other type of vehicle. That includes highways in Texas too. Most people tend to think of the typical truck accident as a crash involving an eighteen wheeler, but there are smaller truck, too whose drivers and company profits are under the same sort of pressure as the larger trucks. One particular company that seems to stand out in terms of frequency of accident reports is UPS. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association’s (FMCSA’s) company snapshot, UPS trucks were involved in 60 fatal accidents alone in the last two years and nearly 700 more where serious injuries were involved.

UPS is admittedly a big company. It has a national delivery fleet of around 100,000 vehicles and beyond the U.S. it has a huge international presence, serving 220 individual countries and revenue in the billions of dollars annually. Considering the size of the organization and the number of parcels that need to get from one place to another in the U.S. it’s not surprising that there are a large number of accidents involving these trucks.

Why do UPS trucks cause serious accidents?

Some of the reasons why UPS trucks are involved in so many serious accidents are the same as for any trucks. The typical truck accident is caused by driver error rather than a fault in the company or defective parts, but the fact is that in any encounter between a large truck and a smaller vehicle such as the typical auto or even a SUV, the smaller vehicle is almost always going to come off worse. In fact, trucks are not necessarily more crash happy than any other type of vehicle, it’s just that they are so much heavier and larger in size than anything else on the highway.

Large, heavy trucks are not the cause of an accident. You can’t blame an accident on the truck or even the model of the truck. Truck recalls because of known defects are very rare. It is almost always something the driver has done that is the immediate cause of a crash. If UPS trucks are involved in highway accidents, then an analysis of what US drivers are doing wrong is necessary.

Truck drivers, including UPS truck drivers, primarily cause accidents because they:

  • are too tired to concentrate on driving safely;
  • are driving too fast for the conditions: note this is not the same as driving over the speed limit;
  • are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication that affects their ability to drive safely;
  • make poor decisions about passing or lane changing;
  • do not see a vehicle because of the truck’s blind spot;
  • fail to yield the right of way at an intersection;
  • are distracted by something, a cell phone call, texting while driving, eating or drinking, checking the GPS;
  • are inexperienced or unqualified to drive a large truck safely;
  • are suffering from psychological or emotional stress.

UPS drivers are under a lot of pressure to get their load of parcels delivered as fast as possible. Particularly in large states like Texas, that means driving for very large distances for long periods of time. The temptations to stay behind the wheel for longer than is safe as well as to drive faster than is safe are very real.

UPS drivers are not always to blame for accidents. Occasionally, defective parts let the truck down. Components like brakes, tires and steering are some of the commonest reasons for accidents that are not related to the way the driver is driving.

What can be done to avoid a UPS truck accident?

If you are behind a UPS truck, keep a safe distance behind it and only pass when you are sure it is safe to do so. Watch the way the truck is being driven. If the truck driver is tired, on drugs, or using his or her cell phone their driving may be erratic. You may have to swerve to avoid the truck when passing it id it veers out towards you.

If you are involved in a UPS truck accident, and are sure it was the truck driver’s fault, or at least not your fault, you may be eligible for compensation. Talk to a truck accident attorney such as one at Injury Lawyer San Antonio to discuss your legal options. A successful personal injury claim will help pay for any damage to your vehicle, pay medical expenses if injured and compensate for any lost earnings. Ring 210-646-9100 for an appointment.

San Antonio Bus Truck Crash: Who Was to Blame?

Posted on Thursday, May 4th, 2017 at 3:46 am    

Texas has dozens of truck accidents every year. Because of the sheer size of many of the trucks on our highways, serious accidents and fatalities are inevitable. However, proving who is at fault is not always easy. In some cases, this may be because the people involved in the accident all die at the scene or are so seriously injured that they cannot recall the events that took place before the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) usually investigates most serious accidents on Texas highways as they do across the country and meticulously records the cause of the accidents as well as other data, such as who was injured and how many fatalities occurred. Where survivors or their families depend for their financial survival on information about the facts of a particular accident and, in particular, who was to blame, these NTSB investigations are very important.

The March 29 fatal accident involving a minibus carrying church members and a pick-up truck on U.S. 83 in Uvalde County is a good example of an accident in which so many people died or were seriously injured that there were few witnesses available to describe the events leading up to the crash.

13 senior adult First Baptist Church members from New Braunfels, Texas were killed at the scene of the crash, with the bus driver, who had been driving the bus carrying the crash victims. The pickup truck driver was also injured but is currently reported to be in stable condition.

The NTSB has already sent a team of crash investigators to the scene to find out what went wrong that day.

The accident happened in broad daylight, at 12.30 p.m. about 75 miles west of San Antonio on the U.S. 83. The church members were returning home to New Braunfels after spending three days at a retreat not far from where the crash took place at Leakey.

There is no indication at this point what the cause of the accident might have been. Initial images of the accident scene showed that both vehicles had collided head on with photos showing that both the bus and the truck had sustained severe damage.

The bus the church members were carried in was a 2004 Turtle Top. Turtle Tops come in different sizes, with smaller ones carrying 15 passengers and larger ones carrying up to 51 passengers. In the past, safety concerns surrounding the 15-seater Turtle Tops have been raised. This size bus has been widely used by church groups and other organizations to transport groups from one venue to another. There is no indication at this point what size the minibus was which was carrying the Baptist church adults.

Truck accidents may not always be due to a single factor. There may be more than one cause of an accident. Both drivers may have been partially at fault in this particular crash, or just one of them. Was it due to speeding, DUI, distracted driving, fatigue, reckless driving or another factor, such as an unroadworthy vehicle? Did the brakes, steering or some other important component, in one or both vehicles, fail at a critical time?

In time, the survivor and any family members of the deceased in this tragic accident will want to know what happened. It is not just a matter of adding more facts and figures to the NTSB’s database. People who are emotionally tied to the deceased will need to know what happened so they can gain some sort of closure. There may be breadwinners in that group. Their families may eventually agree to file a wrongful death lawsuit against whoever was at fault, but this will be impossible unless the facts are unraveled and the picture is clearer. If there was a problem inherent in one of the two vehicles then the investigation and any subsequent lawsuit will help correct a potential danger out on the roads of Texas and elsewhere across the U.S.

Truck accidents can be very serious. If you, or a member of your family, have been seriously injured in a truck accident in the greater San Antonio area and are seeking compensation to help pay for damages due to the injuries, then you should not hesitate to contact an experienced truck accident attorney at the Patino Law Firm in San Antonio, Texas. Ring 210-646-9100 today. There are no legal fees charged unless we win the claim on your behalf!