Washington has one of the largest lumber industries in the U.S. According to some reports, an estimated 100,000 Evergreen State residents work with logging companies, whether in the office, operating specialized equipment, or on-site in a managed forest. In many ways, logging is central to Washington’s economy and its image.
However, logging accidents are anything but rare. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration—the federal agency tasked with enforcing workplace safety standards across the country—determined that logging is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Additionally, these professionals are often stressed, tired, and overworked, which increases the risk of injury in many aspects of the job, including logging truck accidents.
Most Common Causes of Logging Truck Accidents
Since logging is regulated at both the state and federal levels, companies must exercise prudence when making and executing decisions. If they fail to comply with regulations, they risk the public’s safety and well-being. Many transportation-related logging accidents can be attributed to the following issues.
Intrastate and interstate logging truck operators must typically hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDL). However, while a CDL may be the most basic requirement for driving a standard flatbed loaded with logs, less experienced drivers may struggle to maintain control over a large, multi-ton vehicle.
Hours of Service Violations
Many of Washington’s signature timber products are exported and shipped across the country. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration broadly regulates the interstate trucking industry. Logging transportation businesses, like other logistics companies, must comply with stringent hours-of-service requirements.
Under most circumstances, log truck drivers must take mandatory breaks and limit the hours they drive over the course of a single day and during an entire week. Once truck operators reach their daily or weekly limit, they must stop and rest. In the past, it was common for log truck drivers to forge their logbooks, misrepresenting their hours to spend more time on the road. While the recent, federally-mandated shift to electronic logbooks has mitigated this problem, some truck operators still exceed their hours of service, whether to increase their earning potential or to satisfy an overly demanding employer.
Every big rig, including logging trucks, must be regularly inspected. Any identified faults or safety defects must be repaired, even if it means keeping a semi off the road for weeks.
The Code of Federal Regulations details how different types of logs should be secured to the bed of a semi-truck. Since unsecured or under-secured logs pose a significant risk to other motorists’ safety, mistakes in loading or shipping might result in a serious accident.
Potential Injuries in a Logging Truck Accident
Logging truck accidents are frequently catastrophic, causing life-altering injuries for both operators and passenger vehicle occupants. Medical conditions include, but aren’t limited to:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Crushing injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
- Traumatic head injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Loss of limb
Even for victims with comprehensive health insurance policies, the costs of recovery could be immense—and, in many cases, seemingly unaffordable. And for family members who lose a loved one in a logging truck crash, filing a wrongful death claim causes additional hardship.
Possible Defendants in a Logging Truck Crash Claim
While Washington state law affords logging truck accident victims the right to file a claim for compensation against the person or party who caused their injuries, any personal injury lawsuit involving a commercial logistics company could be complicated.
In fact, many logistics companies seek to minimize accident liability by blaming passenger vehicle drivers for the collision. However, even if motorist negligence caused, or contributed to, the accident, an at-fault driver’s decision could be due to far-reaching truck operator negligence or company policies.
Here are some potential defendants in a logging truck lawsuit:
- The at-fault log truck driver
- Negligent logistics company
- Timber shipper or loader
- An automobile manufacturer
- An automotive parts manufacturer
Obtaining Compensation After a Washington Logging Truck Accident
If you or a loved one was injured in a Washington logging truck accident that wasn’t your fault, Max Meyers Law could help you obtain compensation for economic and non-economic damages such as:
- Your past, present, and anticipated medical expenses
- Long-term care
- Assisted living costs
- Lost income from work
- Diminished earning potential
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Wrongful death
Currently, there isn’t a cap on damages in most logging truck accident claims in Washington. But you have to act fast, as there’s a strict statute of limitations. If you wait too long to contact an experienced Seattle-area logging truck lawyer, your lawsuit could be dismissed on a technicality, depriving you of your chance to secure a fair settlement.