Free consultation

What is a Truck Driver’s Logbook and How Can it Help My Truck Accident Case?

Posted on August 16, 2023

Every truck driver is required to keep close track of their hours of service, as mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Truck drivers hours are closely scrutinized in order to prevent drivers from operating while fatigued, and these hours have traditionally been kept in a driver’s logbook. However, logbooks are now digitized and automatically count a driver’s hours. Here, we want to examine what a logbook is more closely, as well as how it could help in the aftermath of a truck accident.

What is the Driver’s Logbook

As of December 18th, 2017, the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule took effect for commercial vehicle drivers. Paper logbooks are no longer sufficient, except if the ELD fails, and even then, the paper logbook can only be used for a specific amount of time until repairs can be made. Drivers can use paper logs for no more than eight days after an ELD malfunction.

ELDs Must be certified and registered with the FMCSA.

There are some exceptions when drivers do not have to use an ELD, including the following:

  • Drivers operating under short-haul exceptions
  • Drivers who would use paper logs for no more than eight days out of every 30-day period.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before the year 2000.

How Could the Logbook Help After an Accident?

Information available from the Illinois Department of Transportation shows that there were approximately 12,000 collisions involving truck tractors with semi-trailers in 2021. Out of these incidents, almost 2,000 were classified as injury accidents, and there were 117 fatal collisions. Individuals who sustain injuries and property damage as a result of these incidents need to be able to recover compensation, and this process involves gathering evidence.

The truck driver’s logbook is one piece of evidence that could provide valuable insight for insurance carriers and a personal injury jury as they make a decision about how much, if any, compensation should go to victims. A truck accident lawyer will work to obtain the ELD from the trucking company or Owner operator and use this evidence in conjunction with other documentation and records.

The ELD can provide valuable insight into a truck driver’s driving habits for the day the incident occurred as well as the days and weeks leading up to the incident. An attorney will look for patterns of the truck driver ignoring FMCSA regulations and, if such evidence arises, work to establish truck driver or trucking company negligence.

The ultimate goal is for the totality of evidence to point towards the negligence of another party so the truck accident victim can receive the compensation they deserve. This includes coverage of medical bills, lost income, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering damages.

Will an Attorney be Necessary for These Claims?

Truck accident claims are complex, and navigating the process of insurance claims and filing a civil lawsuit can be difficult for those without much legal experience. Additionally, trucking carriers, their insurance carriers, and their legal teams do not make it easy to obtain the evidence needed to prove negligence.

Often, an attorney will need to use subpoenas to obtain documents and evidence, such as the electronic logging device. We strongly encourage any person who has been injured due to the negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.