Why is the record of duty from the DOT logbook so important in a truck accident claim?

The record of duty status from the Department of Transportation (DOT) ordered logbook is important in a truck accident claim because it may help establish if the driver was negligent. For instance, it may establish whether the trucker violated the hours-of-service rules regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Information Contained in a Record of Duty

A record of duty is required of every truck driver. Failure to keep these records could be used against not only the trucker but the employer as well.

Information pertaining to a driver’s duty status is tracked on an automatic onboard recording device or a handwritten DOT logbook. It should indicate when the driver is on and off duty. It should also keep track of when the sleeper berth is in use and time spent driving while on duty. 

The record of duty should include: 

  • How many miles the trucker drove;
  • The date; and
  • The name of the carrier. 

Further, the only person that can make entries to the logbook or automatic onboard recording device is the driver.

However, most drivers prefer not to use electronic logbooks because of this reasoning that Dave Owens, president of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies said, “A lot of the carriers have instituted EOBRs (electronic on-board recorders) as a way to ensure the safety numbers are solid, but the downside is costing good drivers because good drivers don’t want to be micromanaged to that level.” Based on this information, you might be dealing with a handwritten logbook, which unfortunately is easier to fudge.

How a Record of Duty Can Be Helpful in a Truck Accident Claim

It can help prove the driver and his or her employer followed the federally mandated hours-of-service rules since the total number of hours is recorded for: 

  • Off-duty in a sleeper berth;
  • Off-duty not in a sleeper berth;
  • On-duty driving; and
  • On-duty not driving. 

If the trucker did not follow these rules, this could help establish that fatigue might have been the cause of or a contributing factor to the accident. Going over the time allowed for operating a large truck may help show not only fatigue but other contributing factors.

For instance, if it’s believed the truck was speeding, the record of duty may show that the driver went from one location to the next much faster than he or she would have the trucker followed the speed limit. This could help establish that the driver was prone to speeding, especially if an eyewitness testifies that the trucker was driving recklessly and/or above the speed limit.

Other Types of Evidence Necessary in a Truck Accident Claim

A claim can’t stand on just one piece of evidence. As helpful as the record of duty may be, it’s critical that additional proof is collected.

Other types of evidence that may be necessary for a claim include a copy of the police report and accident scene photographs. But in addition to proving the cause of an accident, an injured victim will also need to establish the physical, emotional, and financial damages he or she has suffered.

With a strong case, it may be possible to recover damages for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. At the Dallas Law Office of Julie Johnson, we help victims of truck accidents who are dealing with serious injuries and extensive damages. Call us at 214-290-8001.

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