Many people in the general public still do not know that commercial trucks contain devices that record several kinds of information useful after a serious accident, much like airplanes contain "black boxes" that record flight data. Similarly, manufacturers build these electronic control modules, or ECMs, not only to record data about the truck and the driver's habits, they are also built to withstand a serious collision and preserve the data it recorded.
After any kind of serious truck accident, it is always wise to seek out the ECM data from the truck as soon as you possibly can. It may provide important insight into the causes of the accident, which strengthens your personal injury claim or property damage claim and helps ensure that you receive the full, fair compensation that you deserve for your losses and suffering.
If you recently experienced a large truck accident, formally requesting the data from the truck's ECM should be at the top of your list of priorities. Not only is this data potentially valuable to your claim, the owner of the truck and its ECM will probably delete the data quickly unless you formally request it first.
Understanding the value of ECM data
Building a sturdy claim depends on the strength of the narrative you present detailing how and why the accident occurred and its effects on you and your property. In general, the more detailed information that you have to work with, the stronger you can build your claim. A vague claim with little supporting evidence may offer the liable party wiggle room to argue that you don't deserve the compensation you're seeking, but a detailed, well-supported claim is more difficult to dismiss.
ECMs collect a range of data, including but not limited to:
- Highest speed over time
- Average speed over time
- Average RPMs over time
- Total time driven
- Total time driven over 65 miles per hour
- Total idling time
- Usage of safety features, such as airbags and seatbelts
This information can help fill in the gaps and connect other evidence that you collect, such as photo and video evidence of the scene, witness testimony and the driver logs of the truck's operator.
Why build your claim now?
You might think that it is wise to wait until your claim is stronger to file it. This is well meaning, but waiting to begin the process is an invitation to lengthy, costly frustration. Even if you do not file your claim immediately, you must begin building it as soon as you can. Among other reasons, if you wait even a few days, the owner of the truck and its ECM may clear out the data before you have an opportunity to copy it.
As you weigh your options, make sure to protect your rights and your recovery with the strength of the law via excellent legal resources. Your future health and quality of life just may depend on it.