Record keeping requirements in interstate tractor trailer crash cases

Truck accident cases, in Georgia and elsewhere, are far more document intensive than most personal injury or wrongful death cases other than products liability and medical malpractice.

If a knowledgeable plaintiff's attorney has the opportunity to get an early start on a case, the record keeping required of motor carriers provides a wealth of opportunity. If a lawyer who is not familiar with all the records and how they are (or are not) maintained, a good case may be lost.

  1. i. Driver qualification and investigation history files. 49 C.F.R. § 391.51 and 391.53 detail mandatory contents of driver qualification and driver investigation history files, including the employment application, responses by state agencies to requests for driving records, road test certificate, annual driver record responses, list of motor vehicle violations, medical examiner's certificate, waiver letter regarding any physical disqualification, and records of the required inquiries to and responses from former employers. With limited exceptions, these files must be maintained three years after the end of employment. When a motor carrier borrows a driver regularly employed by another motor carrier, 49 C.F.R. § 391.65 requires a certificate of qualifications must be provided by the regular employer and maintained by the borrowing carrier for two years.

  2. ii. Driver's record of duty status and supporting documents. 49 C.F.R. § 395.8 requires that "[e]ach motor carrier shall maintain records of duty status and all supporting documents for each driver it employs for a period of six months from the date of receipt." In addition to driver logs, this includes "[s]upporting documents . . . maintained in the ordinary course of business and used by the motor carrier to verify the information recorded on the driver's record of duty status. Examples are: bills of lading, carrier pros, freight bills, dispatch records, driver call-in records, gate record receipts, weight/scale tickets, fuel receipts, fuel billing statements, toll receipts, international registration plan receipts, international fuel tax agreement receipts, trip permits, port of entry receipts, cash advance receipts, delivery receipts, lumper receipts, interchange and inspection reports, lessor settlement sheets, over/short and damage reports, agricultural inspection reports, CVSA reports, accident reports, telephone billing statements, credit card receipts, driver fax reports, on-board computer reports, border crossing reports, custom declarations, traffic citations, overweight/oversize reports and citations, and/or other documents directly related to the motor carrier's operation, which are retained by the motor carrier in connection with the operation of its transportation business. Supporting documents may include other documents which the motor carrier maintains and can be used to verify information on the driver's records of duty status."

  3. iii. Other record keeping requirements. Appendix A to Part 379 sets forth the schedule of records and periods of retention. A one year retention term is prescribed for personnel, payroll, shipping and agency documents. Other corporate and financial records have longer retention terms.

Client Reviews
"My family hired Ken after our parents were killed in a trucking accident in GA in 2013. We worked with Ken for 19 months before our case settled. During this time I thought Ken was outstanding. He was accessible to us at all times and maintained consistent communication. He was patient with us and took time to explain the finer points of law. While we avoided going to trial, he prepared diligently and I felt like he was leaving nothing to chance. I am relieved that our case is complete and I will miss working with Ken. He was very thoughtful and caring while helping us to stay relaxed. I would highly recommend him to anyone who requires these types of services."
★★★★★
"When tragedy struck our family in the form of the wrongful death of our son and caused me physical injuries and changed our lives forever, we dragged our feet about hiring a lawyer. I didn't want to face having to go through the stress. Big mistake. The first thing you do is hire local counsel. I found Mr. Shigley by surfing the web, and we got a listening ear. He was realistic, professional and worked very hard in our behalf. Not only that, he showed a genuine concern for our family, and ran interference for us on a number of issues relative to our case. If I had it to do over again, I would have hired him sooner." Carolyn R., Newnan, GA
★★★★★
"After my parents were killed in a tractor truck accident on December 2013, he fought hard against the insurance companies to help my brother, sister, and I. He was honest and always available to answer any questions I had. Ken went out of his way to meet with my brother and I while on vacation in New England. He was awesome in explaining everything to us in detail and looked out for us with every step of the lawsuit. I would highly recommend him." Joan M., Client, Massachusetts
★★★★★
"I first met Ken when I watched him try a very difficult case involving catastrophic injuries. He was an incredibly effective advocate and was able to obtain justice for his client. I have since come to know him as one of the state's leading trial lawyers, particularly in trucking cases, which involves complex regulatory and legal issues not involved in other types of cases. I do not hesitate to recommend Ken for any kind of personal injury case." John H., Attorney, Atlanta
★★★★★
"Ken Shigley is an excellent trial lawyer in the area of commercial trucking. He knows the specialized rules for handling truck wreck cases for the victims and their families when tractor-trailers leave a devastating loss, catastrophic injuries and deaths. He is an advocate who understands the impact on his clients and is highly effective in bringing them justice." Myles E., Attorney, Atlanta
★★★★★