Destruction Of Driver’s Logs
Orlando Truck Accidents
Federal hours of service regulations establish how much time a driver may spend behind the wheel without a rest period. The goal of the rules is to prevent drivers from becoming fatigued and causing an accident.
An important aspect of these rules is the requirement that drivers maintain records, or logs, of their time and activities on and off the road for each 24-hour period in which they work. The law requires drivers to submit their logs to their employers. The employers must sign the logs, attesting that they are accurate, and store them for at least six months.
After a truck accident, a driver’s logs are the primary evidence of the driver’s activities. They can indicate whether a violation of hours of service rules occurred, and the driver was fatigued as a result. Unfortunately, drivers and carriers may destroy or alter drivers’ logs after accidents.
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Orlando, Winter Park or elsewhere in Florida, Orlando truck accident attorney Frank M. Eidson will act quickly to obtain a court order that preserves driver’s logs and similar evidence. He will also seek all relief possible if these records are lost or destroyed. To learn more, call us today or reach us through our online form.
A Closer Look at Logbook Requirements
A commercial truck driver must maintain a log that reflects his or her duty status for each 24-hour period the driver is on the job. The driver must record:
- Time, day, month and year for the start of each 24-hour period
- Hours spent driving
- Hours spent off duty, including time in the truck’s sleeping berth
- Hours spent on-duty but not driving
- Each change of duty status and the city and state where this takes place
- Truck or tractor and trailer number
- Name and address of the carrier
- Name of co-driver
- Shipping document number or name of shipper and commodity
- Driver’s signature/certification.
As you can see, the driver’s logs hold a wealth of information that could be valuable evidence in a claim following a semi-truck accident. In particular, a driver’s log would indicate a violation of hours of service rules and the likelihood that a driver was fatigued or drowsy at the time of an accident.
Possible Spoliation of Evidence Claims
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that about one-third of the drivers interviewed in three separate surveys admitted that they often or sometimes omit hours from their logbooks. Some drivers even referred to the logbooks as “comic books” because they are so easily falsified.
There are many ways to determine whether a logbook has been falsified, including:
- Cell phone data, logging the time, date and geographic information
- Debit and credit card records or store receipts, showing a driver’s location at a given time and date
- Security cameras, with time-stamped footage showing a driver at a location
- Electronic data records (“black boxes”).
If it is shown that evidence was intentionally lost, hidden, altered or destroyed by a driver or trucking company, a spoliation of evidence claim may be pursued. This claim may lead to sanctions against the driver or company. As the Florida Bar Journal note, evidence of spoliation may actually provide “an even greater advantage than the actual evidence itself had such evidence been available.”
Contact an Orlando Truck Accident Attorney
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, you will need the assistance of an Orlando truck accident attorney. The lawyer should know how to preserve evidence such as driver’s logs and how to seek sanctions against any party who hides or destroys such evidence.
Attorney Frank M. Eidson will act aggressively to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve after a truck accident, including pursuing a spoliation of evidence claim if necessary. To learn more about how he can help you, call us today or reach us through our online form. We serve clients in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida. Our initial consultations are always free.