Commercial trucks are dangerous, and can cause serious and fatal injuries in the event they get into accidents. For that reason, there are a number of federal regulations that control various aspects of trucking. These regulations, which are put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), apply to truckers and their employers. One of those rules requires the use of a log book to document a truck driver’s activities on the road.
What are log books?
Log books are critical tools for keeping tabs on drivers and ensuring they obey federal regulations and employer rules. After a truck accident, these books can serve as valuable evidence that victims can use to establish liability. The FMCSA requires drivers to use log books to record a variety of information, including how much time the driver has spent on the road, on break, and in the sleeper berth.
This requirement exists because the FMCSA regulates how much time a truck driver is allowed to drive before resting. Violations of log book regulations are serious, and can result in fines, license revocation, and other penalties.
Drivers are often under pressure by their employers to be on the road as much as possible. Every minute spent off the road takes away from company profits, and drivers themselves are often paid by the mile. For that reason, some drivers give in to the temptation to falsify their log book records to make it appear as though they complied with federal regulations when they actually did not. Employers may threaten their jobs so they can continue maximizing profits while keeping regulators off their backs. There’s even more of a risk of falsified or destroyed log books after a truck accident.
Drivers falsify log books by creating “clean” logs that cover up their violations or by deliberately recording inaccurate information. Remember, if there’s been an accident, the log book can serve as critical evidence of wrongdoing. Truck drivers and employers know this, and the log book is usually the first thing they target to cover up their wrongdoing.
You might think at first that uncovering such fraud would be next to impossible, since drivers and their employers are in possession of the log book long before the plaintiff will get to see it. But there are ways to detect possible alteration or false recordings.
For example, the data contained in the book might be contradicted by other evidence, like receipts or witness testimony. A driver may have made purchases at two different points that can be compared with each other in terms of time and distance. The data recorded in the log book might not be consistent with this. In other cases, drivers record the same (false) information over and over, so patterns can be detected which suggest fraud.
Can I use a truck driver’s log book in my Northern Virginia personal injury case?
Working with an experienced Northern Virginia truck accident attorney, you can obtain a copy of the logbook and review its contents to see whether the information in it suggests negligence. If it’s determined that the driver was on the road too long before an accident, that might be evidence of driver fatigue. Your lawyer can also take steps to verify the accuracy of the log book information and to uncover fraud.
Truck accidents are serious, and victims may be left with major medical bills, lost time from work, and other significant damages. Evidence like the log book is critical to establishing whether negligence was a factor. If you or a loved one were hurt in a truck accident, Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP may be able to help. Give us a call to schedule your consultation.