A Big Rig Accident Lawyer Can Help
Many truck accidents happen due to driver fatigue and errors. It is no secret that many truckers plying big rigs on America’s highways are routinely overworked, often exceeding the maximum hours allowed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). When truck drivers are pushed to their physical limit, they are bound to make an error sooner or later, sometimes with disastrous consequences. This is the reason your truck accident lawyer will want to obtain the driver’s logbook without any delay.
The truck driver’s logbook contains information that may serve as the backbone of discovery. To those who are not familiar with legal terms, ‘discovery’ is the pre-trial stage in which the necessary evidence is collected. The evidence collected during this stage helps your lawyer build a strong case to prove the validity of your truck accident injury claim. Without access to the driver’s logbook, it can be difficult for the lawyer to do so.
FMCSR regulations require every truck driver to maintain a logbook detailing the following information:
- Driving hours: This is the number of hours the driver has driven without taking a break. A driver may drive continuously for a stretch of 8 hours after which he must take a sleeper berth break of at least 30 minutes before he can drive again.
- Off duty hours: This is the number of hours the driver has not worked. A truck driver is allowed to drive up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of duty.
- Hours worked in the last 7 days: The driver is required to enter the number of hours he has worked on each day in the last 7 days. A truck driver may not be on duty more than 70 hours in an 8-day period. Once he has worked the maximum number of hours, he must go off duty for at least 34 hours.
- Total distance driven: This is the total number of miles the driver has driven in the last 24-hour period. It cannot exceed the maximum specified by FMCSR.
- Driver’s daily vehicle inspection report: This section contains the date of inspection, tractor number, trailer number, and checkboxes to tick if any defects/deficiencies were detected during inspection and whether or not they were corrected.
Other information that a driver’s logbook contains include date of entry, name of the driver, the driver’s employee number, name of the owner (company), shipping number, the driver’s signature and the mechanic’s signature (if any defects were corrected during inspection). Your big rig accident lawyer will want to get access to all of this information.
Truck drivers are required to retain their logbook and supporting documentation for a period of six months. If a trucker has failed to keep a logbook, or is found to have falsified the information entered in his logbook, or has destroyed his logbook before the end of the 6-month period, then he and his company (or the owner of the truck) are in violation of FMCSR regulations and can be held liable for damages.
These days, most truck companies use electronic logbooks instead of paper logbooks. Electronic logbooks are immune to thefts, fire, and other disasters. They can also be held in the company’s data storage for a much longer period of time and accessed instantly when needed.
Thus, trucking logs can be used as valuable evidence in your accident claim. If your big rig accident lawyer can show by examining the driver’s logbook that he is in violation of any FMCSR rules, then you can be sure that he has nailed it in your favor. Therefore, if you are involved in a truck accident, insist that your lawyer get access to the driver’s logbook.