By Pendergast Law on October 10, 2020
When you hear the phrase “logging truck accident” your mind may drift to the opening scene of Final Destination 2. As fantastical as this film is, logging truck accidents are extremely serious and can lead to catastrophic injuries, a massive amount of property damage, and tragic deaths. More often than not, these horrifying events are the result of negligent actions on the part of a truck driver, company, or mechanic.
Types of Logging Truck Accidents
The forest products industry plays a vital role in Washington’s economy. With more than 1,700 related businesses throughout the state, the industry provides jobs, directly or indirectly, for 105,000 workers, who earn a total of $4.9 billion. Overall, forestry-related gross business income is approximately $28 billion a year, as stated by the Washington Department of Commerce. Sadly, despite massive profits, there are serious risks involved when transporting logs and wood across our state.
In a recent five-year period, fatal logging truck accidents increased by 41% across the United States, as reported in an International Journal of Forest Engineering. In comparison to other truck accidents, which only increased by 19% over that period, all logging trailer crashes increased by more than 33%, including those that involved fatal and non-fatal injuries. Lastly, and most alarmingly, 21% of logging trucks were involved in fatal rollovers, compared to 12% for other large trucks.
There are several factors that influence these accidents. For one, logging trucks were the oldest vehicles involved in fatal accidents at an average age of 13 years. These vehicles often do not benefit from recent advancements in automotive safety, especially with regards to the trucking industry. They may not be able to handle heavy weights as well as newer vehicles and may be more prone to losing control. In addition, that average age means they have suffered quite a bit of wear and tear, meaning they are more prone to mechanical failures.
All of this adds to the possibility of a fatal logging truck accident, which can occur in several different ways, including:
- Rollovers caused by improper braking, excessive speed, or improperly loaded cargo
- Jackknifing, leading to multi-vehicle pileups
- Flying debris that injures motorcyclists and causes other drivers to crash
- Tire blowouts that cause the driver to lose control of the truck
- Equipment failure due to poor maintenance of older vehicles
- Collisions caused by failure to use warning signs and reflective tape
Contributing Factors to Logging Truck Crashes
Logging trucks are more dangerous than other large trucks because they are hauling a different type of load. While most equipment is stored tightly in a trailer, logs are rested on the bed of a truck and secured with chains. If the balance on the load shifts, the rollover rate increases, and the cargo can break free from the impact of a collision or from the driver overcompensating to avoid an accident. They also operate on rural, winding roads where they are more likely to lose control of their vehicles.
Negligent actions that may contribute to logging truck accidents include:
- Truck driver fatigue
- Traveling too fast for conditions
- Improperly loaded cargo
- Drug-impaired driving
- Failure to maintain truck and tires
- Failure to use reflective tape and warning signs
- Failure to properly train drivers
- Over-length trucks
Liability for Logging Truck Accidents
Alongside the truck driver, several other parties can be found liable from a logging truck accident, including:
- The Lumber Company/Landowner: Lumber companies and landowners may hire drivers who are not properly trained to handle large loads or logging vehicles.
- The Trucking Company: Trucking companies often oversee the logistics of a haul so logging companies can focus on forestry matters. Thus, if the trucking company hired an unqualified driver or pushed them to violet a trucking regulation, the trucking company could also be found liable.
- The Truck’s Mechanic: Maintenance issues should be spotted by the truck’s mechanic. If the mechanic ignored a serious issue or damaged the truck during maintenance, then these defects could cause a truck’s brakes, engine, or other parts to fail.
But holding any one of these parties accountable for a logging truck accident is not easy. Insurance companies for trucking and lumber companies are extremely aggressive and will not give up compensation easily. On your own, you may find it next to impossible to file a successful claim, but with the Seattle truck accident attorneys at your side, you may have a real shot at proper compensation. Our firm has more than 40 years of experience and has won hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. If you have been injured in a logging truck accident, call us today. We can thoroughly investigate your case and represent your best interest throughout the entire claims process.