Coal and log trucks are common sights on West Virginia roads, representing two very important sectors of the state’s economy. However, they can also be hazardous to other drivers and pedestrians, causing crashes that injure or kill.
In recent months, there have been numerous instances of logging and coal trucks causing injury or death in the state. These include a woman killed in October 2018 by logs falling from a logging truck as she stood in her driveway in Durbin. One person suffered injuries in a June 2019 coal truck crash in Kanawha County, one person died in the fiery collision of a coal truck and an SUV in Boone County in May 2019 and two people were injured when a coal truck overturned on Route 26 in February 2019.
If you were injured or a loved one died in an accident with a coal or logging truck, you may be eligible to obtain compensation by initiating a civil lawsuit. However, claiming damages due to injury or death caused by coal and logging trucks requires special knowledge of the state and federal safety regulations covering commercial vehicles that carry very heavy cargo. Common regulatory violations that can lead to accidents are:
- Overloading —Illegal overloading can make trucks top-heavy and prone to tipping, especially if hit by another vehicle or rounding a curve. Overloaded trucks are also slower to stop, making crashes with other vehicles or road hazards more likely.
- Improper loading — Unbalanced loads resulting from incorrect loading can make coal and log trucks more likely to tip or to go off the road.
- Unsecured loads — Incorrectly secured logs are more likely to fall off the truck, striking other vehicles or pedestrians. Coal trucks in West Virginia must cover and secure the load with a tarp while traveling on any public highway or if traveling more than one mile.
Additionally, coal and logging trucks must follow U.S. Department of Transportation regulations limiting how much time drivers can operate their trucks per day and per week. A coal truck with a fatigued driver or a log truck that is poorly maintained can cause an accident independent of the cargo it carries.
If the owner or driver of a coal or log truck fails to comply with regulations or to use due care in its operations, it could be legally responsible for resulting injuries and deaths. Liability can fall upon a coal mine, a saw mill, a trucking company, an independent hauler or anyone engaged in loading or maintaining a truck.
If you suffered injury or a loved one died as a result of an accident involving a coal or logging truck, find out about your legal options. The truck accident attorneys at Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC in Bridgeport, West Virginia can advise and represent you in your claim against the liable parties and fight for the compensation you deserve. For a free initial consultation, call us at 304-842-4300 or contact us online.