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Tampa Car Accident Lawyers > Blog > Personal Injury > What is a Semi-Truck’s “Black Box”?

What is a Semi-Truck’s “Black Box”?


You’ve heard of airplanes having “black boxes” that can be used after a crash to determine what happened. However, today, most semi-trucks have them as well. A semi-truck’s black box can provide crucial data if you are injured in a crash. In this article, the Tampa, FL truck accident attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm will discuss black box data in semi-trucks and how it can be used to bolster your personal injury lawsuit.

What is a black box? 

“Black box” is a generic term that refers to several different components of the computerized systems that are now routinely installed on commercial vehicles. In semi-trucks, these devices are used to monitor driver safety and the status of the truck. While some black boxes continuously record data, others only start recording after a crash is detected. The information that a black box records after a crash is absolutely essential to your personal injury case. Without it, it can be more difficult to prove that the truck driver was at fault for the accident. For this reason, truck companies are reluctant to share this data with plaintiffs unless they are legally compelled to do so.

Electronic control modules 

Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) are small computers that operate in modern engines. They are typically composed of multiple smaller computers and sensors that monitor and control various elements of the engine as well as the vehicle’s performance. This includes elements such as fuel injection timing, transmission function, anti-lock brake systems, traction control, and more.

If you’ve ever seen your “check engine” light go on, that’s your vehicle’s ECM warning you that there’s a problem. The ECM generates fault codes for diagnostic purposes that help mechanics understand what the problem with your vehicle is. They record a great deal of information such as engine speed, temperature, battery information, tire pressure, transmission temperature, emissions, oxygen ratio, and more.

Event data recorders (EDRs) 

Event Data Recorders are triggered when a certain event takes place. This can include sudden deceleration, airbag deployment, seatbelt tensioner activation, sudden braking, and any other indicator that a crash has occurred.

When triggered, they preserve a recording of information such as speed, cruise control status, braking, clutch application, and wheel turning. This information can be used to determine exactly what happened during an accident.

Use in lawsuits filed against trucking companies

 In commercial trucking accidents, black boxes are extremely important because they generally contain the best evidence of what the truck driver was doing directly prior to a crash. They can also provide data concerning mechanical failures within the truck itself. The data may show that the driver was speeding or failed to brake directly before a collision. It can also show the exact moment that the collision occurred and what the truck driver did after it happened.

The black box contains direct proof of what happened and can be used to bolster your arguments when suing a trucking company. For that reason, the trucking company won’t just give you access to the black box data, you have to subpoena that information with the help of a lawyer who will petition a judge to turn it over.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Truck Accident Attorney Today 

The Tampa personal injury lawyers at The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. have the experience you need to take on a major corporation. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation, and we can begin preparing your case right away.

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The experience you need in your pursuit of justice

The greatest distinguishing feature among attorneys is their level of experience. Our firm has more than 60 years of legal experience, much of it spent in the courtroom at trial. As a result, our Tampa personal injury lawyers rarely encounter an unfamiliar situation and can thoroughly answer your urgent questions. Our criminal defense practice features a board certified criminal trial lawyer and two former prosecutors with impressive knowledge of trial tactics and procedures.

The resources to provide quality representation for the length of your case

Whether your case involves medical malpractice, an auto accident or a wrongful death, your attorney must be prepared to take the case all the way through trial to verdict. Many personal injury attorneys advance the cost of litigation, so they can only last so long before financial pressures start to mount. As a client, you have to wonder whether an attorney's advice to settle your case reflects the quality of the offer or your attorneys need to get paid. Fortunately, The Matassini Law Firm has the resources to pursue civil verdicts and settlements that reflect the actual value of your case.

Call our Tampa Bay car accident lawyers for a free consultation

A crisis in your life calls for capable and compassionate assistance. The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. addresses your needs all the way through the legal process. For your free initial confidential conference with one of our Tampa car accident attorneys, call us today at 813-217-5715 or contact us online.

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