The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires every professional truck driver on the road to maintain a written log of where they go, how long they stay on the road, and what condition their vehicle is in during every trip they take. The data that this logbook contains can often be crucial for anyone who gets hurt in a truck accident to obtain, as it often indicates whether a driver was violating federal regulations either on their own or by order of their employer.
However, depending on the reputability of a trucking company involved in this type of wreck, the role of logbooks in Chattanooga truck accident cases can change pretty substantially. Guidance from a knowledgeable truck accident attorney is often key to ensuring that logbooks are preserved as they were when an accident actually occurred and making effective use of the information within them.
The primary purpose of logbooks in the eyes of the FMCSA is to ensure that truck drivers are obeying federal laws regarding how long a driver can stay on the road in one continuous shift and how many working hours they can accrue in a week. These laws were put in place to minimize the risk of an overly fatigued truck driver causing an accident that results in serious harm to other people on the road.
With that in mind, truck drivers are generally required to include all the following information in the physical logbooks inside their cabs:
Under federal law, truckers carrying cargo and not people cannot spend more than eight consecutive hours on the road without taking at least a 30-minute break, nor can they drive for more than 11 total hours or stay on duty for more than 14 total hours after a minimum 10-hour off-duty shift. Logbook records showing that a driver went over these limits can serve as crucial evidence of negligence by them or their employer during a Chattanooga truck accident case.
Truck drivers and trucking companies know all too well how seriously the FMCSA takes the aforementioned logbook requirements, and unfortunately, that inspires some of them to knowingly fudge their records so that there is no evidence in writing that they broke federal law. Sometimes, identifying this kind of malfeasance can be as simple as comparing the mileage recorded in the logbook or the truck’s odometer to the working hours logged, and identifying where the distance traveled does not match up with the alleged length of a driver’s work shift.
In other situations, it may be necessary to seek additional information from the truck’s black box, a trucking company’s internal records, or even testimony from the trucker themselves. A dedicated local attorney could play a crucial role in ensuring that logbook data is accurate and relevant to a claim.
While the information contained in truck logbooks is not always essential to successful financial recovery in a truck accident claim, it can be helpful more often than not. Like any form of evidence, though, it is only useful if accurately analyzed and effectively utilized, both of which a knowledgeable lawyer could provide irreplaceable help accomplishing.
No matter what led to the accident that serves as the grounds for your claim, you should think twice before proceeding with litigation without a dedicated legal professional on your side. Call today to learn more about the role of logbooks in Chattanooga truck accident cases.