Tractor Trailer Accidents: Acting Quickly to Preserve

In Massachusetts, the victims of truck accidents have three years to file a lawsuit against a trucking company. But in tractor trailer accident cases, perhaps more than any other type of auto accident case, it is essential to act quickly to preserve evidence – both physical evidence and electronic evidence.

Tractor trailers are equipped with “black boxes,” similar to what are often recovered from airplanes after airplane crashes. These so-called Event Data Recorders (EDRs) can be a treasure trove of information in the typical tractor trailer accident case. The information stored on an EDR can show that a trucker never braked before an accident, how fast a truck driver was going before an accident, and how long a driver had been trucking for before the accident. This electronic information can turn a case that might be one person’s word (yours) against another’s (the truck driver’s) into a case where certain facts favorable to your case can be indisputably established.

But unless a lawyer acts quickly on your behalf – either by sending the truck company a letter of preservation or by filing a lawsuit on your behalf – all of this evidence will have a very short lifespan. Under federal law, a trucking company need only retain most records for six months after an accident. 49 C.F.R. S395.8(k).

In addition to being able to recover information from a built-in EDR, a lawyer acting quickly on your behalf may be able to preserve data from peripheral devices that the truck driver was using, such as GPS navigators and radio systems. Your own GPS device – whether portable or built into your car – may also contain information that a lawyer, acting quickly on your behalf, can preserve.

If you’ve been in a tractor trailer accident, don’t delay in contacting a lawyer.