Uncovering Log Book Violations in a Truck Accident Lawsuit

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Federal law requires commercial vehicle operators to refrain from driving when fatigued or less alert. The Bringardner Injury Law Firm team of Charleston truck accident lawyers may be able to represent you in a case that uncovers log book violations that show how a commercial driver or a trucking company bears responsibility for a collision caused by drowsy driving.

What Are the Federally Mandated Hours of Service Rules for Commercial Truck Drivers?

The U.S. DOT designed the Hours of Service rules to prevent commercial truck drivers from becoming fatigued and to prevent them from driving when they’re not fully alert. Fatigue affects a truck driver’s reaction time and endangers others on the road.

Commercial truck drivers carrying goods and property must follow specific federally regulated Hours of Service rules. Deviations from the mandated rules may result in hours of service violations.

Some of the HOS rules covered in the January 2024 update include:

  • The 10-hour off-duty rule: Drivers must have at least 10 hours of consecutive off-duty time before they can operate a commercial vehicle again.
  • The 11-hour driving time rule: A long-haul truck driver may not operate a commercial vehicle for more than 11 hours during a work shift.
  • The 30-minute Interruption of driving time rule: A truck driver may not operate a commercial vehicle for more than 8 hours without a break consisting of at least 30 consecutive minutes of non-driving. Drivers who fail to enter or falsify a mandated break-time period may lead to log book violations.
  • The 14-hour driving work shift rule: Drivers may not operate a commercial vehicle after 14 consecutive hours have elapsed from the beginning of their work shift regardless of the time spent not driving.
  • The 60-hours in 7-days rule: A driver may not operate a commercial vehicle after more than 60 hours of on-duty time during any 7 consecutive days.

Log Book Violations

With only a few exceptions, federal law requires commercial vehicle drivers to maintain a log book of their daily activities and driving time. The intent of the law is to prevent commercial drivers from operating their vehicles past the point of fatigue.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, monitors the trucking industry’s adherence to log book rules. When commercial truck drivers fail to properly maintain their log books, or in some cases attempt to falsify their entries, the FMCSA refers to those missteps as log book violations.

Why Would Drivers or Trucking Companies in South Carolina Go Against the Federal Hours of Service Rules?

Commercial drivers sometimes forget to make an entry in their log books. There are also times when drivers will attempt to cover up the fact that they exceeded the HOS driving-time rules. Because many commercial drivers get paid based on the number of miles they cover, there is often an incentive to squeeze as many miles as possible into a work shift.

The incentive to make more money can tempt truck drivers to risk log book violations. Trucking companies may also ignore a driver’s questionable log book entries when it results in more deliveries and increased company profits. In some cases, a trucking company may push a driver to ignore the HOS rules in order to meet certain delivery deadlines.

There are no excuses when a truck driven by a drowsy driver collides with another motorist. Our experienced truck accident attorneys see too many accidents that could have been prevented with simple safeguards, like adherence to log book rules or choosing to pull over and rest.

How Do You Prove That a Log Book Violation Led to a Trucking Accident?

If a commercial vehicle operator exceeds the required Hours of Service driving limits and causes an accident, the log book could help prove a claim against the driver and the trucking company.

Our experienced truck accident attorneys can check for log book violations that may become one of the deciding factors in a case.

In addition to reviewing a driver’s log book, a truck accident attorney has the ability to look into other forms of evidence during discovery that could strengthen the case. This may include:

  • Cellphone records
  • GPS tracking
  • Testimony from witnesses
  • Fueling receipts

Reviewing the truck’s electronic logging device

There is another form of supportive evidence that could help prove a claim of log book violations. An electronic logging device, also referred to as a truck’s “black box,” tracks and records the truck driver’s activities, travel duration and miles driven in real-time. The FMCSA requires all commercial trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds to have an ELD installed.

In some cases, a commercial driver may attempt to remove or alter their vehicle’s ELD to lower the risk of the FMCSA discovering log book violations. Under these circumstances, some of the other forms of supportive evidence could prove helpful in strengthening a case against a negligent truck driver.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney To Investigate Wrongdoing

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a trucking accident in South Carolina, an insurance company’s initial settlement offer may not provide adequate compensation for the harm endured.

You may, however, have an option to initiate a lawsuit that proof of log book violations could help support. The trucking company or driver will not hand over this information willingly.

Contact an experienced truck accident attorney from Bringardner Injury Law Firm in Charleston. In any truck accident case, you are likely to be dealing with more than just the truck driver. The driver’s employer and the company’s insurance carrier will also become involved. These cases are usually complex. Standing up for the rights of the injured in our community and preventing future truck crashes is important to us.

You can contact our injury law firm 24/7 and schedule a free case consultation. A skilled truck accident team attorney will investigate the issues and explain your legal options. Should you hire us, we don’t get paid unless we recover money for you.

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Get in touch with us today to get started on your free case review. After you submit your information, we will contact you as soon as possible before the end of the business day. We review all submissions as quickly as possible in the order in which they are received.