Because of the potential for truck driver fatigue to cause devastating crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted hours of service regulations to limit the number of hours that truckers can drive without a break. For example, during a work day, a trucker is permitted to work for 11 hours, but can only drive for 8 hours. Given the pressures to deliver loads quickly, truck drivers frequently violate these rules and drive longer, resulting in crashes caused by drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel. If this was the cause of your collision, the trucker may have violated the hours of service rules. Proving this could strengthen your claim for compensation.
How Do You Prove Hours of Service Violations?
When a truck driver violates hours of service regulations, the trucking company may also be to blame in encouraging the trucker to do so or ignoring violations. However, proving violations of these rules can be challenging because the truck driver and trucking company records may not accurately show how many hours the trucker was truly driving at the time of your crash if they were falsified or modified right after your wreck. These are some of the documents that can help you prove what was really going on:
- Trucker logbooks. A trucker is required to complete a logbook showing what hours he worked and took a break while on a trip. However, this document is only the starting point of a thorough investigation because a trucker can falsify the information or the trucking company could monitor it to ensure that it shows no violations.
- On-board electronic devices. Some trucks are equipped with electronic devices that record when a driver was on and off duty. In addition, a GPS system could record the truck’s location and speed throughout the day. This data should be compared to the logbook to help determine if the logbook is accurate.
- Cellphone data. Cellphone data encompasses a lot of helpful information other than just calls the trucker made. This includes text messages, e-mails, Internet activity, and GPS information. Besides helping to establish what the trucker was really doing on the day of the crash, it may include incriminating communications between the trucking company and truck driver concerning how long he should drive.
- Receipts. Gas, food, and tollbooth receipts and records can show when a truck driver took breaks and his location at various times during his trip. These could be inconsistent with the trucker’s claims regarding when he took required breaks from driving in his logbook.
- Bills of lading. While not required by federal regulations, many shippers will stamp the pick-up and drop off time on the bill of lading. This information can be cross checked to the logbook information to help determine if the records have been fabricated.
You cannot hope to obtain the information you need to prove an hours of service violation or to analyze it accurately without the help of an experienced truck accident attorney. The legal team at the Hart Law Firm is here to help. To get your questions answered and learn about your legal options for compensation, call our office to schedule a free consultation.