Using a Trucking Log As Evidence in an Accident Lawsuit
Commercial trucking is a lucrative but cut-throat business in which drivers are often asked to work grueling hours to boost profits. Truckers are frequently overworked and expected to stay on the road far beyond the maximum hours of service allotted for short and long hauls. It’s no surprise then that human error and fatigue are the underlying cause of many of our nation’s big rig accidents.
Investigating compliance with federal safety regulations and hours-of-service standards is an integral component to determining fault in trucking accident cases. All commercial truckers are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to maintain a log that details their actions, rest periods and hours on all trips. In the aftermath of a serious wreck, this trucking log is one of the most important pieces of evidence used to support a personal injury claim.
Truck driver log books offer valuable insight into the circumstances surrounding the crash, and can help your attorney reconstruct the accident and prove if driver fatigue or negligence was to blame. Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman truck accident lawyers are well-versed in the tactics used by commercial carriers, who may attempt to falsify or alter log books to avoid liability. By law, commercial truck companies must maintain these trucking logs for a minimum period of six months.
In addition to obtaining the written truck log, our legal team will review the vehicle’s electronic logging device (ELD), which is linked to the semi’s engine and records how much time was spent behind the wheel and other driver behaviors. This “black box” recorder can offer foolproof evidence if a trucker was speeding, or driving well beyond their legal limits.
Trucking log data
Under federal law, commercial truckers are obligated to keep a written logbook for all short and long-haul trips. These logs track hours-of-service (HOS) and provide a record of a Commercial Driver’s License holder’s activities. Every 24-hour period, truckers must document the following information:
- Total driving hours: Truckers are allowed to drive a total of 11 consecutive hours during a 14-hour period. However, driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last 30-minute rest break.
- Hours worked over the past 7 days: The FMCSA allows truckers to work a maximum of 70 hours over an eight-day period. After that, truck drivers must go off duty for a minimum of 34 hours.
- Total number of miles covered in the past 24 hours
- Off duty time: The number of hours or days the driver has not driven a truck and been relieved of all work responsibilities.
- Daily vehicle inspection report: Includes the date of the tractor trailer inspection, the identifying number for the semi and whether any malfunctions or defects were identified and/or corrected.
Vital evidence to support a truck accident claim
Unfortunately, falsifying trucker logbooks is not uncommon. Truckers who work outside of their legally allowed hours, or fail to take mandatary rest breaks may alter their logs to avoid getting caught. Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman attorneys perform a thorough investigation, cross-checking records to look for red flags that logbooks have been altered. Beyond paper and electronic logs, there is other evidence that may bolster allegations of negligence, including:
- Driver drug and alcohol screening
- Fuel logs and gas receipts
- Dispatcher communication records
- Truck GPS information
- Phone records
- Maintenance history records
- Weigh station bills
- Witness accounts
In both New York and New Jersey, there have been numerous 18-wheeler and commercial vehicle accidents attributed to drivers who violated FMCSA safety and hours of service regulations. If you were harmed or a loved one was killed in a truck accident, you need a skilled lawyer who can advocate for justice. Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman attorneys are prepared to take on trucking companies that put their profit margins before public safety.
Truck accident lawyers serving New York & New Jersey
At the law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, we litigate commercial truck accident lawsuits and have the experience and investigative techniques to gather solid evidence that will support your claim for compensation. We have helped trucking accident victims throughout Rockland County, Bergen County and the surrounding areas hold negligent, distracted and fatigued drivers accountable for their actions. In many of these complex cases, a truck driver log book can prove invaluable to securing a fair settlement.
Explore your legal rights by calling our law offices for a free initial case evaluation.
- Trucks.com, Truckers Grapple with Switch to Electronic Logs https://www.trucks.com/2016/11/29/electronic-logging-devices-truckers-switch/
- DAT, 5 New Regulations that Could Change Trucking http://www.dat.com/blog/post/5-New-Regulations-that-Could-Change-Trucking
- FMCSA, New Regulations to Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue Begin Today https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/new-hours-service-safety-regulations-reduce-truck-driver-fatigue-begin-today
- FMCSA, Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Drivers%20Guide%20to%20HOS%202015_508.pdf