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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.