Commercial motor insurers and carriers should be aware that in 2017, Congress solidified the law that requires commercial vehicles to be equipped with electronic logging devices. These devices monitor driver logs, including driving hours as well as other features such as front and rear cameras.
The commercial vehicle companies as well as defense attorneys know that this law was passed in order to improve conformity to the trucking industry's hours of service regulations, but it also has the potential to impact claims and litigation in this business.
A change in discovery
Because the ELD monitors a large amount of data, lawyers on the side of the plaintiff will likely attempt to use the data against trucking companies, insurers and their defense attorneys, during the discovery process of litigation. Data that the plaintiff will be privy to include:
- When the engine is running
- When the vehicle is moving
- Miles driven
- Engine hours
The verdict is still out on whether information such as the front and rear camera footage, hard braking and lane changes will be available to discovery in litigation but should be kept in mind of defense lawyers.
What does this mean for the defense?
The information that the ELD tracks will make a plaintiff's case against the truck driver or industry much stronger. The data will virtually be at the tips of their fingers and the evidence may be hard to dispute.
If you are in the position of defending a trucking insurance company, knowing that the plaintiff has this information can be helpful. Getting a copy of ELD evidence for yourself will give you a better idea of what you are dealing with and plan your best defense.