How a Truck Driver’s Logbook Can Help Your Case

Posted On June 13 2024 | Trucking Accidents

Nearly every commercial truck driver on the roadway in the United States is required to have some type of logbook. Historically, these were paper logbooks, but generally, you will find that these are digital and integrated into the entire truck’s system.

These logbooks record a plethora of information related to the truck and the driver’s actions leading up to an incident. Logbooks can play an integral role after an accident occurs, particularly if victims are seeking to recover compensation for their injuries and property damage losses.

What is the Logbook for Truck Drivers and Is It Required By Law?

A truck driver’s logbook is a detailed record of the driver’s hours of service (HOS), vehicle inspections, and other critical data. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that all commercial truck drivers maintain accurate logbooks to ensure compliance with safety regulations. The purpose of the logbook is to track the driver’s activities, including:

  • Driving hours. The logbook records the number of hours a driver spends driving and resting. The FMCSA has strict regulations regarding how many hours a driver can operate a vehicle before taking mandatory breaks to prevent fatigue-related accidents.
  • Vehicle inspections. Drivers must log their pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspections, noting any defects or maintenance issues that need attention.
  • Rest periods. The logbook must include information about the driver’s rest periods, ensuring they comply with required off-duty time to prevent fatigue.

How the Logbook Can Help After a Commercial Trucking Accident

After a truck accident, the logbook can be a crucial piece of evidence in determining liability and proving negligence. Here’s how a logbook can assist in your case:

  • Verifying compliance with HOS regulations. The logbook can show whether the truck driver adhered to HOS regulations. If the driver exceeded the allowed driving hours without proper rest, this can indicate fatigue, which may have contributed to the accident.
  • Identifying driver fatigue. By examining the hours logged, attorneys can identify patterns of excessive driving and inadequate rest, which are common factors in fatigue-related crashes.
  • Tracking vehicle maintenance. The logbook includes details of vehicle inspections and maintenance. If the logbook reveals that necessary repairs were not performed, this can help establish negligence on the part of the trucking company or driver.
  • Corroborating witness testimonies. The logbook can provide a timeline that can be cross-referenced with witness statements and other evidence, helping to establish an accurate sequence of events leading up to the accident.

Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help Get the Logbook?

Securing the logbook is essential for building a strong case after a truck accident. Some ways a truck accident lawyer can help in these situations include:

  • Legal requests. An experienced attorney knows the legal procedures for obtaining the truck driver’s logbook. They can file the necessary motions and requests to ensure this crucial evidence is preserved and handed over.
  • Evidence preservation. Trucking companies may not willingly release logbooks or may even alter them. A lawyer can act quickly to issue a spoliation letter, which is a formal request to preserve all evidence related to the accident, including the logbook.
  • Expert analysis. Attorneys often work with experts who can analyze the logbook data alongside other evidence, such as GPS records and electronic logging device (ELD) data, to uncover discrepancies or violations that support your claim.
  • Building a comprehensive case. With the logbook in hand, a lawyer can build a comprehensive case that demonstrates the truck driver’s and trucking company’s liability. This can include showing a pattern of overworking drivers, poor maintenance practices, or other regulatory violations.