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Are Tow Truck Operators More Prone to Occupational Disease?

June 26th, 2018 Posted by Labor & Industries

Every part of a tow truck operator’s musculoskeletal system is at risk of suffering from repeated microtrauma. This job requires repetitive bending, reaching, twisting, stooping and kneeling, lifting, pushing and pulling, and medium-to-heavy physical exertion from a myriad of awkward postures. Whether it’s putting together the wheel assembly, jacking up half the weight of a stranded vehicle, strapping the wheels, hooking up safety chains, jumping in and out of the truck cab (under time pressure; often on rough and uneven surfaces), or just bumping along the road and suffering from over-the-road vibrations, the work is hard on their bodies. The physical toll on the tow truck operator’s body is unquestionable.

Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act defines an Industrial Injury in RCW 51.08.100 as “a sudden and tangible happening, of a traumatic nature, producing an immediate or prompt result, and occurring from without, and such physical conditions as result therefrom.”

For example, if a tow truck operator gets struck on the roadside by a vehicle passing too close, an industrial injury results and a labor and industries claim can be filed.

The more common way for tow truck operators to suffer from work-related injuries is over time, gradually, through the build-up of microtraumas in the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, spine, knees and feet. The Industrial Insurance Act defines these types of injuries as an Occupational Disease in RCW 51.08.140 as “such disease or infection as arises naturally and proximately out of employment.”

In order to successfully file an occupational disease claim, tow truck operators must show that whatever their particular diagnosis, that medical condition arose naturally from “distinctive conditions” inherent to tow truck operators. The distinctive conditions must be more likely to cause the worker’s diagnosis than conditions of everyday life or all employment in general.  A medical expert must testify to these facts.

If you are a tow truck operator, especially one near the end of your service career and with a body that is worn out, please call the labor and industries attorneys of Washington Law Center to learn how we can assist you to get to the right doctor, get the legal proofs you need, and potentially get you awarded financial benefits for the rest of your life (depending on the facts of your case).

Don’t accept the defense positions that your aching joints and spine are just “age-related” or “pre-existing” conditions.

It’s simply not true (or not entirely true).

We have the exhibits ready to go.

We know the doctors to use for this type of L&I claim.

We are experienced in assisting tow truck operators to get the Industrial Insurance Act benefits they deserve.


Spencer Parr is an attorney/partner at Washington Law Center who works with Washington labor & industries, social security disability, & time-loss benefits. He is experienced in working all across the US as he has worked cases in Washington, California, New York, & Arizona.

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