Employees who drive for work are covered under workers’ compensation benefits. This insurance is especially important for these workers, because being behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is a risk. Not only will an injury be painful, but it could render an employee unable to continue driving for work, leaving them without an income. Keep reading to learn how truck drivers are protected in the case of an injury.
Common Trucking Accidents & Injuries
Due to the large size of trucks such as 18-wheelers, the risk of accidents increases. Trucks have more blind spots than cars, take longer to break, and make wide turns. These are just a few of the reasons that truck accidents happen. In 2020 there were 107,000 large truck accidents resulting in an injury.
Injuries from accidents are plentiful. A serious vehicle accident can cause a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, broken bones, and more. Additionally, there doesn’t need to be a truck accident in order for a trucker to get injured. Many truck drivers suffer from repetitive motion injuries or chronic pain from sitting for such long periods of time. Other injuries like strained muscles can occur from loading and unloading the truck.
Are All Truck Drivers Eligible for Workers Comp?
All truck drivers who are classified as employees are eligible for workers’ compensation, according to the attorneys at Kemmitt, Sanford & Kramer. This includes part-time and full-time employees as well as non-citizens. All states except Texas require mandatory coverage, meaning that companies must carry workers’ comp insurance.
Independent contractors are not covered by workers’ compensation benefits. Many contractors, however, are actually employees who are being misclassified.
How Does Workers’ Comp Work for Truck Drivers?
To get workers’ comp benefits, your first step after getting injured will be to report the injury to your employer. The time within which you must report your work injury differs per state, but the range is around 10-90 days. Next, you must file a claim. You will need to do this within a certain number of time as well, again depending on your state. The general range is around 1-3 years. There are exceptions to this time limit, for example if you fell into a coma and were unable to file a claim in time.
Under workers’ comp benefits, injured workers qualify for medical coverage, wage replacement, and vocational rehab benefits. Vocational rehab provides workers with career training and guidance if they cannot continue working in their industry.
Within the wage replacement benefits there are different levels of options, such as temporary disability benefits and permanent partial disability benefits. Your eligibility will depend on the severity of your injury, among other factors. Temporary disability benefits usually pay two thirds of an employees’ salary. For permanent injuries where you cannot return to work, benefits can be paid out in installments or a lump sum. The amount of compensation will depend on an impairment rating, which is determined by your doctor.
There are a few exceptions to receiving these benefits. Truck drivers will not be eligible for workers’ comp if they were involved in an accident while under the influence or while violating traffic laws, whether purposely or by mistake. Make sure to stay alert while driving a truck for work, and in the case of an injury, report it as soon as possible.