Workers' Compand Landowner Liability
Information Sheet # 6
REVISED: May 2006
Wood Harvests: Workers’ Compensation and Landowner Liability
Maine Forest Service, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, CONSERVATION & FORESTRY
22 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333
Practical advice for your land and trees from the Maine Forest Service
Landowners may be liable for workers' compensation costs if a logger or his/her
assistant is injured on their property while conducting a timber harvest (39-A MRSA §
401(4)). Such costs can amount to many thousands of dollars. To avoid this liability, the
landowner must follow one of three courses:
1. Require Proof of Workers' Compensation Insurance:
A landowner who engages a timber harvester to cut a woodlot must ask for and receive a
certificate of workers' compensation insurance issued by the insurance carrier from the
harvester and must annually request and receive similar certificates as the work proceeds. If the
insurance is cancelled during the time of the contract, the logger must notify the landowner in
writing within 3 days of the cancellation (39-A MRSA § 401(3-A)).
If the logger does not provide proof of this insurance, you are liable for any injuries to his or
Require Proof of Independent Status:
A logger may receive from the Workers' Compensation Board a Certificate of
Independent Status (39-A MRSA § 105). This is issued by the Board on an annual basis to a
logger, certifying that the logger harvests forest products in a manner that would not make him
an employee of the landowner. These certificates apply to all timber harvesting jobs carried out by
the logger for the year of issuance provided the circumstances under which the certificate was
issued do not change.
A written contract—a good idea.
A written contract between a landowner and logger is not required by law, but it is strongly recommended to
protect the interests of both parties. A consulting forester can help write an individualized contract for
your harvest. At a minimum, the contract should include:
· The Contract Period - State clearly when the contract begins and when it ends, and whether there are
periods during which operations may be suspended (such as during spring thaw).
· Access - Define where and how the logger will get to the stands to be cut, and in what condition any
access roads and log landings will be left.
· Trees to be harvested - Clearly define what trees will be cut and what trees will be left uncut, and how they
are identified in the forest.
· Harvest boundaries - Indicate in the contract and in the field where the harvest should take place. If the
harvest is near your land's boundaries, marking the boundaries is a legal requirement and prevents
· Handling "slash" - Slash treatment (tree tops and branches left on a site after a timber harvest) should
· BMP’s: Identify clearly who is responsible for implementing Best Management Practices to protect
· Insurance - Clearly state what insurances are required before the contract is valid; do not sign the contract
until you have insurance certificates in hand that are valid through the contract period.
· Payment - Spell out the basis for payment by type of timber (sawlogs, veneer, pulpwood, boltwood and
other types) and remedies for late payment, default or failure to satisfy other obligations under the contract.
Consider requiring a deposit or bond before harvesting begins.
If for any reason a landowner has a dispute with the logger, a copy of the Timber Harvest Contract signed
by all parties will help clarify expectations, and becomes critical in any legal action.