A Guide to Logging Accident Lawsuits

Updated

A logging or timbering lawsuit is a legal claim that is filed after a person suffers a logging related injury. These are typically brought as a worker's compensation claim or a third-party claim against the party responsible for the accident. A wrongful death claim may be asserted in the case of a fatality.

If successful, the injured logger can recover the following:

The most common causes of logging injuries and fatalities include:

  1. being struck by falling objects,
  2. equipment rollovers,
  3. equipment malfunctioning, and
  4. logging truck accidents.

A few of the most frequent injuries suffered in timbering accidents are:

  • broken bones,
  • brain injuries, and
  • lacerations and even loss of limbs.

Our California personal injury attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

timber being moved down stream
Logging is a dangerous business, and logging injury lawsuits are here to help you...

1. What is logging and is it dangerous?

Logging or timbering refers to the process whereby trees are cut down or felled.

The general goals of this process are to:

  1. harvest timber in order to produce wood products and paper, and
  2. clear trees for forest management plans.

The reality is that every step within logging/timbering can produce serious injuries or even death.

Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that:

  • the logging industry has a fatality rate 21 times higher,
  • than the overall fatality rate for work injuries.1

Further, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 8,380 non-fatal logging injuries from 2006 to 2015.2

The most common causes of these injuries were:

  • contact with equipment,
  • falling or tripping, and
  • overexertion.3

Timbering also caused 655 fatal occupational injuries over this same period.4

The most common causes of death were:

  • contact with equipment,
  • transportation related incidents, and
  • falling or tripping.5

The states with the highest rates of logging injuries and deaths include:

  • Washington,
  • Oregon,
  • New York,
  • Pennsylvania,
  • Virginia,
  • Kentucky, and
  • Tennessee.6

2. How does a person file a logging claim?

If a person suffers an injury in a logging related accident, he can file a worker's compensation claim.

The worker files this claim with the worker's compensation department in the state in which he works.

Note that in certain cases, a worker can also file a third-party action. This is a lawsuit filed against a third party that may be either:

  • wholly, or
  • partially

responsible for the worker's injury.

Example: Mike works as a log loader. He suffers serious injuries after a log falls from a logging truck. The accident was caused by a defective part on the truck.

Here, Mike can file a worker's compensation claim. He can also file a third-party claim against the truck's manufacturer on the grounds that it made a truck with a defective product.

man sick in hospital bed
An injured logger that successfully brings a worker’s compensation claim may recover expenses and other benefits

3. What can an injured party recover?

An injured logger that successfully brings a worker's compensation claim may recover the following:

  • medical expenses paid because of the injury,
  • permanent impairment benefits (if applicable),
  • vocation rehabilitation funds, and
  • temporary disability.

Note that the latter is compensation for part of the income a person lost due to recovery.

Note also that a person cannot recover the following in a worker's compensation claim:

  • money for future wage loss, and
  • pain and suffering.

A logger, though, can recover these in a third-party action. A reason these actions can be so important is that they help provide an extra source of funds for an injured party.

Example: In the situation above with Mike, he will not be awarded compensation for:

if he is successful in his worker's compensation claim. However, he can try to recover this compensation in his defective product case against the truck manufacturer. If he wins, he is able to keep all of the damage awards collected under both of his claims.

4. What are the most common causes of timbering injuries and fatalities?

The most common causes of timbering injuries and fatalities are:

  1. being struck by falling objects,
  2. equipment rollovers,
  3. equipment malfunctioning, and
  4. logging truck accidents.

4.1. Falling objects

The following objects cause the most timbering injuries and deaths when thrown through the air:

  • trees and branches,
  • tools, and
  • parts from machinery that break loose.

Note that to help prevent injuries from these objects, workers are legally required to wear hardhats and face shields.7

4.2. Equipment rollovers

It is a fact that logging equipment falls or rolls over in the timbering industry. These events often cause injury and sometimes death.

Causes of rollovers include:

  • lack of training,
  • changes in work areas (e.g., weather or soil conditions), and
  • handling errors by a worker.

4.3. Equipment malfunctioning

The two main types of equipment that cause malfunctioning injuries and accidents are:

  1. chainsaws, and
  2. skidders.

Chainsaws can malfunction and cause recoiling and kickbacks.

Skidders” are large vehicles that are used to haul fallen trees out from a forest. These vehicles have several moving parts that can break down or give up. Both events can easily lead to a serious accident.

4.4. Logging truck accidents

Note that accidents often result when logs are improperly loaded onto these trucks. In this event, the logs can roll off the truck bed and injure workers in the truck or on the road.

5. What are common injuries suffered in logging and timbering accidents?

The five most common injuries suffered in timbering accidents are:

  1. broken bones,
  2. brain injuries,
  3. lacerations and even loss of limbs,
  4. spinal injuries, and
  5. psychological issues (e.g., depression and anxiety).

6. What should a person do if injured in a timbering accident?

A person that is injured in a logging or timbering accident must do the following:

  1. get medical treatment and care for the injury,
  2. contact an experienced personal injury attorney for advice and assistance,
  3. collect and preserve any evidence related to the accident, and
  4. keep all documentation involving medical treatment and any subsequent care.

For additional help...

california personal injury attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.


Legal References:

  1. Logging Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

  2. The facts of the faller: Occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities to loggers 2006–2015.” Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

  3. See same.

  4. See same.

  5. See same.

  6. See same.

  7. These requirements are imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). See for example, “Twelve Frequent Hard Hat Questions,” Occupational Health and Safety website.

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