The timber industry in South Carolina is vital to the state’s economy. According to the South Carolina Forestry Commission, forestry is the leading manufacturing industry in the state with 90,624 jobs and average annual revenues of $17 billion. Forests cover 68% of the total land area of the state. These factors result in rural highways in the state being heavily trafficked by logging trucks. Each year, serious accidents are caused by logging trucks, injuring and killing others. If you have suffered serious injuries in an accident caused by a logging truck or have lost a close family member, you should talk to the experienced personal injury team at The Lovely Law Firm. Our Myrtle Beach truck accident attorneys can advise you about your options and work to protect your recovery rights. We are dedicated to our clients and work had to help them to recover just settlements for their losses.
Logging truck accident statistics
According to a study that was reported in 2019 in the International Journal of Forest Engineering, fatal accidents involving logging trucks in the U.S. increased by 41% from 2011 to 2015. During that time, 383 logging trucks were involved in fatal accidents, and 84% involved log trucks that had tractor-trailer configurations. While other types of large trucks involved in fatal accidents during the four years increased by 19%, logging truck tractor-trailer fatal accidents increased by 33%. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that 291 logging trucks were involved in accidents in the state in 2017. Out of those, seven were involved in fatal accidents, 117 were involved in injury accidents, and 167 were involved in property damage only collisions. Because of problems with proper load securement and proper steering of log trucks, these trucks pose greater safety risks to people who are navigating the roads around them.
Logging truck regulations
Because of the risks involved with logging trucks, logging companies and their drivers have some specific regulations that they must follow in terms of load securement. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires trucks that are used to transport logs to be built or adapted for transporting logs. They must have standards, stakes, bolsters, or bunks to prevent logs from rolling off. They must have tie-downs that have working load limits of a minimum of 4,000 pounds. There are also specific stacking and maximum length requirements for the logs.
Despite the regulations, many logging companies fail to adequately maintain their fleets. Many of the logging truck drivers are also not adequately trained. Because of the type of loads that these trucks carry, accidents involving them can result in deaths and catastrophic injuries.
Causes of logging truck accidents
Logging trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles. This places the occupants of cars and SUVs at heightened risks when they are involved in accidents with logging trucks. Some of the common causes of logging truck accidents include the following:
• Improper loading
• Improper securement
• Poorly trained and unqualified drivers
• Improper maintenance
• Using trucks that do not have the proper adaptations
• Defective stakes or tiedowns
• Damaged reflectors or lights
Improperly loaded logging trucks can be very dangerous to other motorists. When the logs have not been properly loaded and secured, they can roll off of the truck or slide out while the truck is traveling on a highway. When this happens, the falling logs can strike one or more vehicles and cause serious injuries or fatalities. Improper loading can also cause the driver to lose control of the truck when the logs shift and potentially cause the truck to tip over or jackknife.
Because the drivers of logging trucks are frequently on tight schedules, they may be tempted to speed. Some of these drivers are paid by the mile instead of by the hour to incentivize faster deliveries. A fully-loaded logging truck can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. Because of their heaviness, it takes the trucks much longer to come to a stop when the brakes are applied. Speeding logging trucks may not be able to stop in time to avoid other vehicles or slowed traffic ahead of the vehicles.
Some logging companies do not provide adequate training to their drivers. People who drive logging trucks will be driving some of the heaviest types of vehicles on the roads and should be trained to properly handle and inspect them. They also need to understand how to ensure that the logs have been properly loaded and secured. Some companies hire drivers who are independent contractors. These drivers may not follow the same rules for commercial drivers. Sometimes, logging companies do a poor job of checking the backgrounds of the independent contractors with whom they contract and may have drivers who have records of moving violations and accidents that show that they are not qualified.
Logging companies and third-party leasing companies that own logging trucks must inspect them regularly and make certain that they are in good repair and are properly maintained. Without proper maintenance and repair, tires, brakes, and other components can fail and cause accidents.
Using trucks that have not been designed, adapted, or built to haul logs is another problem that can lead to accidents. When this happens, the loads are much likelier to fall off of the beds and cause accidents. Similarly, if the stakes and tie-downs are defective and fail, the logs can fall from the trucks and strike other vehicles.
If a truck’s reflectors or lights are damaged, this can make it harder for the truck driver to see. Failed or defective lights and reflectors can also make it much harder for other drivers to see the trucks at night and can cause serious accidents.
Liability in a logging truck accident
Logging truck accidents can cause catastrophic injuries and lifelong disabilities. Because of the extensive injuries and losses that can be associated with these types of accidents, determining liability is very important to ensure that the victims can recover fair compensation. In many cases, multiple parties may be liable for a logging truck accident. Some of the parties that might be liable in a logging truck accident include the following:
• The truck driver
• The truck driver’s employer
• The logging company that negligently hired, supervised or retained the driver
• Company that loaded the logs and secured them
• Company that failed to properly maintain and repair the logging truck
• Manufacturer of defective components or parts
• Entities that failed to properly maintain the roads
Logging truck companies must carry insurance with high policy limits for their trucks because of the serious injuries and substantial losses that can result in accidents. Because of the large sums that may be involved in logging truck accidents, the insurance companies are likely to mount vigorous defenses against claims. This makes it important for the victims or their families to get legal help to seek the recovery of damages.
Get help from the experienced lawyers at The Lovely Law Firm
A logging truck accident can be very frightening and can leave you with permanent disabilities. If you have suffered serious injuries in an accident that was caused by a logging truck, you may be entitled to recover damages for your losses. The attorneys at The Lovely Law Firm understand how to investigate logging truck accidents to prove liability.
Contact us today to schedule a free truck accident consultation by calling us at 843.839.4111.