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Satellite data helps scanlan recover $750,000 for truck crash victim

A 38-year-old woman riding as a passenger in an over-the-road truck suffered severe brain damage when the driver of the truck she was riding in crashed after he fell asleep. Although federal law prohibits over-the-road drivers from driving more than 70 hours in an 8-day period, the trucking company in question regularly pressured its drivers to exceed this limit in order to squeeze out additional profits.

Believing that the crash was caused by the company’s pressure on the driver to exceed the federal 70-hour limitation, Edmund J. Scanlan filed a negligence action against the trucking company. During discovery, Scanlan sought both the log maintained by the driver (which all drivers are required to keep under federal law) as well as Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) data maintained by Qualcomm Corporation. Many trucking companies equip their trucks with GPS receivers, which permit the companies to monitor their drivers’ speed and location. After an intense battle, Scanlan obtained both the log and the satellite data. Although the log showed that the driver had complied with the 70-hour rule, the satellite data revealed that the driver had fabricated his log, and had in fact been driving well in excess of the 70-hour limit, which caused him to fall asleep at the wheel and crash. In the face of this unassailable electronic evidence, the trucking company settled the case for $750,000.

According to Scanlan, “in trucking cases, most attorneys are unaware of the availability of this GPS data, and the companies fight tooth and nail against giving it up. If you can pry it out of them, your case is going to be a heck of a lot easier-the satellite doesn’t lie.”

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