You are a commercial truck driver. You worked hard to study to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you underwent training with your job, and you follow all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules whenever possible – including truck maintenance, mandatory rest breaks, driving without distractions, and hours of service. You understand the high stakes of operating a big rig truck, because when big rigs and heavy trucks are involved in accidents, the likelihood for severe injuries goes up.
Despite taking all of the proper precautions, imagine another driver accidentally causes an accident. The wreck causes you to suffer immediate pain, maybe even objective injuries like broken bones. Not only do you have to deal with your physical pain, but you may not be able to immediately get back to work, causing you to suffer financial losses. What happens next? What are your rights?
Truck drivers injured on the job in Tennessee do have rights, but the circumstances will dictate what the injured party may be actually entitled to recover.
Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act protects those injured at work throughout the Volunteer State. It also protects some workers injured outside state lines, provided they were hired in Tennessee. Whether you are hurt in a car or truck accident in Memphis, Jackson, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, or anywhere in between, you can recover workers’ compensation benefits so long as your company has this type of insurance coverage (Tennessee law requires companies with 5 or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance). The legal standard for qualifying for these benefits does not technically involve negligence. Instead, one must prove he or she was acting in the course and scope of employment. For truckers, an example of this is driving a route authorized by the employer in furtherance of their business.
Regardless of how the injuries arise, coverage can be in place, as workers’ compensation is often characterized as a “no-fault” system. For example, workers’s compensation can apply in Tennessee following an auto accident, loading/unloading a truck, slip and fall, or others. If you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you may recover some, if not all, of the following benefits:
- Medical benefits
- Wage benefits
- Permanent disability
Medical benefits mean the treatment you need to get better. Workers are assigned an Authorized Treating Physician that facilitates treatment to be approved by the workers’ compensation carrier, such as doctor visits, medical devices like crutches, prescriptions, and necessary surgery. Wage benefits, based on the employee’s average weekly wage of the preceding 52 weeks, can be available for those taken off work by their Authorized Treating Physician. At some point, the Authorized Treating Physician will release the patient at maximum medical improvement (MMI). The patient may be assigned an impairment rating if there are any residual injuries, restrictions, or other sources of permanent injury.
Third Party Claim Against Negligent Third Party
Let’s say someone other than you or your co-worker caused you to get hurt. For example, you are driving your truck on Interstate 40 outside Memphis when another truck suddenly rear-ends your truck and pushes you into the median. Or, you deliver materials to another site, and someone from that company unsafely operates machinery and you get pinned between the machinery and the ground. In situations like these, you may be able to assert a third-party claim for negligence against the responsible party, in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. In a third party claim, you will have the legal burden of proving the third party’s negligence or recklessness. To accomplish this, it may be necessary to hire expert witnesses. A valid third party claim can increase the amount of damages you may be able to obtain, as you could get recovery for full lost wages, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other elements of damages not allowed under the Tennessee workers’ compensation laws.
Injured employees have rights. Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, the largest Tennessee-based plaintiff’s personal injury law firm, has the resources and experience to make sure those rights remain protected. Our firm has experience fighting for those who have suffered significant injuries, and we waste no time in beginning our investigation into the wreck. We have the capabilities to consult with and hire experts, as needed, in an effort to help our clients recover all damages to which they may be entitled. Let us help you. For a free consultation with a Tennessee-licensed auto accident lawyer today, call our law firm at 800-529-4004 or fill out our online contact form.