Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Injured Truck Drivers?
When people think about injuries and truck drivers, it is usually about the type of injuries that truck drivers can cause in a collision. But truckers are workers as well, and can suffer from injuries on the job. Because of the dangerous nature of the trucking industry, truckers have a greater risk of encountering workplace accidents than workers in some other occupations.
When truckers are seriously injured from an accident, they could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they are employees of the trucking companies. Workers’ compensation insurance allows employees to seek medical and wage benefits for time missed due to sustaining an injury. Workers’ compensation insurance can also cover death benefits for employees who tragically have lost their lives as a result of a workplace accident. Some of the death benefits include funeral expenses for the employee and a weekly compensation to the employee’s dependents.
What are some of the injuries that workers’ compensation can cover for truck drivers?
Truck drivers face the risk of being struck by other vehicles while driving, making roadside repairs, or even while loading and unloading at businesses and warehouses. They can slip and fall, be hit by falling objects, or sustain an injury because of a defective truck part.
However, truck drivers face specific risks associated with their occupation, so the injuries that they suffer can be unique. Under workers’ compensation, two types of injuries that truck drivers sustain can be covered: traumatic injuries and occupational injuries. Traumatic injuries are injuries that a truck driver sustains from a specific accident.
For example, truck drivers can experience head trauma or back and neck injuries after being involved in a rollover trucking accident. A traumatic injury has the capacity to be anything from a minor concussion to a spinal cord injury.
An occupational injury, on the other hand, is an injury or a condition that gradually worsens over time. Truck drivers can develop some occupational injuries from just sitting in the same position for an extended amount of time; their work is sedentary but stressful, and truckers may be more likely to develop heart problems because of it.
Truckers are also at risk of repetitive stress injuries, where certain conditions are developed by repeating the same motions or positioning parts of one’s body in a similar fashion over and over again. These types of injuries are both traumatic and occupational, because:
- An initial traumatic work injury can cause the damage, and then the repetitive nature can exacerbate it, or
- Doing the same thing over and over again can cause small amounts of wear and tear that build up over time, leading to significant damage.
Repetitive stress injuries cause strain in the soft tissues that consist of nerves, muscles, and tendons. Some examples of repetitive stress injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, ganglion cysts, and trigger finger.
Can truck drivers develop musculoskeletal disorders?
Because truck drivers perform tasks that cause severe strain to the back and neck area, such as unloading and unloading cargo, truck drivers are at a greater risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders. Musculoskeletal disorders are injuries of the muscles, nerves, joints, spinal discs, and tendons.
Several conditions of the trucking occupation can cause truck drivers to develop musculoskeletal disorders. In addition to the constant loading and unloading of cargo, truck drivers who use dollies or loaders are at risk of suffering from back and neck injuries. Sitting still in a truck for several hours can also cause a back or neck injury for a truck driver.
What are some of the hurdles truck drivers experience when filing a workers’ compensation claim?
One of the main hurdles that truck drivers experience while filing a workers’ compensation claim is proving that the injury the truck driver sustained occurred at the job. Depending on the type of accident and the injury sustained, some truck drivers are able to prove this factor more easily than others.
For example, if a truck driver was involved in a trucking accident and sustained injuries from that accident, it may be easier to determine that the injuries occurred on the job. If a truck driver developed a repetitive stress injury or a musculoskeletal disorder, however, it would be more difficult to prove that the job was the cause of the truck driver’s injury. Insurance companies may try to pinpoint other activities that the truck driver is involved in as the sole cause of the truck driver’s injury.
Another hurdle that many truck drivers experience when filing workers’ compensation claims is the classification of the truck driver’s employment status. To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, a truck driver must be legally categorized as an employee. If a truck driver is classified as an independent contractor, he or she is not eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, the trucker will have to file a personal injury lawsuit if he or she is hurt on the job. To be successful in this claim, you must prove someone else’s negligence was to blame for your injury.
Finally, truckers face a challenge if their injuries were caused by defective truck parts. If a trucker is hurt because a part failed, the burden is proving it failed because of a defect in the part, not negligence by the trucker or his or her employer in maintaining the truck. Defective parts can lead to a product liability claim, and you will want experienced legal representation if this is the case.
This is why you should work with a Huntsville injury attorney who has experience handling truck accident cases as well as workers’ compensation claims and product liability claims. At Martin & Helms, we can use our experience in all three areas to your advantage. Our extensive knowledge of the trucking industry and the dangers and risks it poses to workers, combined with our years of experience helping injured workers in North Alabama, allow us to accurately assess your injuries and the help you will need to recover.
You should not have to risk your health and safety for a paycheck. When you have been injured on the job and are facing a workers’ compensation claim dispute, the experienced Huntsville workplace injury lawyers at Martin & Helms are prepared to help you win. Do not hesitate to call us at 256-539-1990 or complete out contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We have another office in Decatur, and proudly serve clients in Athens, Madison, and throughout North Alabama.
Choosing the right personal injury attorney is an important step in building a better future. You deserve a lawyer who works one-on-one with you, and who can develop a plan for you to move forward. When you choose Martin & Helms, you get Clay Martin and Tara Helms: experienced, compassionate counselors who put your best interests first. We invite you to read more about us.