Trucking is a dangerous industry for multiple reasons. Many truck drivers are in control of a 40-ton vehicle that isn’t impervious to wind, winter weather, and congested highways. These trucks can’t brake as quickly and can’t maneuver around vehicles should those vehicles hard brake.
Furthermore, the drivers are often forced to work under rigorous hours and generally consume unhealthy meals—potentially causing driver fatigue, which can lead to dangerous, unfortunate accidents.
According to Trucks.com, the truck drivers’ annual rate of non-fatal injuries and illnesses while on the job is 305.5 per 10,000 people, making it one of the most dangerous professions. Additionally, the median number of days annually that a driver misses due to work-related illness or injury are 22.
This is where workers’ compensation comes in. What events entitle a truck driver to workers’ comp? What does workers’ compensation even provide, and what injuries does the compensation cover?
What events entitle a truck driver to workers’ compensation benefits?
If a trucker is an employee of a company and not an independent contractor — i.e., if the trucker receives a W-2 versus a 1099 — then the trucker should receive workers’ compensation insurance. Compensation can be filed if any of the below occur:
- Accidents that occur while you’re on the job. Motor vehicle accidents involving tractor trailers often are head-on collisions, T-bone incidents, and accidents caused by brake-locking.
- Diseases and illness that occur from being on the job while trucking, such as blood clots, skin conditions, asthma are typically covered.
- Injuries that happen from repetitive use or overuse, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, leg injuries, and hip injuries.
- Damage to the back resulting from lifting heavy cargo to and from the truck.
- A heart attack or stroke that happens while on the job, though this event is considered difficult to prove.
- After sitting in the truck for so long, a trucker may succumb to chronic stress injuries, such as neck or back pain.
What does workers’ compensation typically cover?
- Medical expenses. Workers’ compensation covers medical expenses that you would incur post-injury. This includes expenses for surgery, hospital stay, and more. Compensation may also include reimbursement for mileage to and from medical appointments.
- Loss of wages (indemnity). For every moment you’re spending time recuperating from your injuries, it’s likely that you’re losing your income. Workers’ compensation helps recover any income lost during the time that you’re out from your job.
- Temporary total disability benefits. If the damages you suffer from make you unfit to work, but only for a certain period, you’re entitled to these benefits.
- Temporary partial disability benefits. These benefits only apply when you return to work — per the doctor’s orders — and are only permitted to do light duty.
- Vocational rehabilitation. These include physical and traumatic therapies to help your physical and mental recovery.
- Death benefits. Should the worst happen, your funeral expenses will be covered and a percentage of your wages for a determined amount of time.
- Pain and suffering are not eligible for workers’ compensation.
What injuries are covered?
A wide array of injuries—from minor to catastrophic—are eligible for workers’ compensation. Below are some examples of just what injuries are covered in the event you are injured while on the job:
- Amputation of a limb or appendage
- Back injuries
- Spine and spinal cord injuries
- Bone fractures and breaks
- Cuts, lacerations, and bleeding
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Slip and fall accident injuries
- Joint injuries to the hips, knees, elbows, shoulders, wrists, or ankles
- Repetitive strain injuries
Consult a personal injury attorney if you suffer from a truck driving-related injury
Keep in mind that truck drivers have rights to workers’ compensation if they are harmed in any way while on the job. They are entitled to receive compensation for medical expenses incurred, vocational rehabilitation, indemnity, death, and partial/total disability.
Furthermore, there’s a slew of injuries that are covered, ranging from repetitive strains on the body while on the road to injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents.
If you feel that you are entitled to workers’ compensation or denied workers’ compensation, please consult a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney will be able to secure the evidence you need and fight for the compensation you deserve as you focus on your recovery.