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What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover for Truck Drivers?

iStock-921335184On the job injuries are an unfortunate fact of life. This is why most states have laws requiring companies with five or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, sometimes referred to as workman’s comp. If you are a commercial truck driver injured on the job, you may qualify for benefits under your employer’s coverage. Workers’ compensation laws are created and administered at the state level, and it is a specialized area of personal injury law. Below are common questions our firm has been asked by injured 18-wheeler drivers and passengers.

Who Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Whether you are covered by workers’ compensation or not first can depend on your employment status. Independent contractors may not be covered. If you are an owner/operator, you may have occupational insurance, which differs from workers’ compensation administered at the state level. If you are covered by your employer’s policy, you can be covered for injuries that occur in the course and scope of employment. The most common example is a truck accident, which could be a single car accident or multi-vehicle pileup. You could also assert a claim if you get hurt after a slip and fall, either on the truck or someone else’s property.

When Should I File My Claim?

Injured truck drivers and passengers should act quickly – your claim could be denied if you don’t file in time. It is important to file a workers’ compensation claim as soon after the accident as possible because failure to timely file this type of claim can result in your claim being denied outright. In Tennessee, for example, the law states an employee should report a work-related injury to his or her supervisor within 15 calendar days of the date of the injury or date that a doctor first tells an employee the injury is related to work. Workers’ compensation claims in Tennessee also have a specific statute of limitation, often one (1) year from the date of injury or last voluntary payment made by the insurance company on the employee’s behalf. Timely filing a claim is critical, as treatment for common injuries such as ligament tears, herniated discs, and broken bones can be costly if they must be paid out-of-pocket.

What Kind of Benefits Are Available to Injured Truckers?

Workers’ compensation laws generally cover three forms of damages – medical benefits, wage benefits, and disability benefits. Medical benefits cover treatment related to the accident, such as doctor bills, physical therapy, and prescriptions. In order for your medical treatment to be covered, it must be approved through workers’ compensation. Wage benefits compensate the injured worker for a designated portion of his or her average weekly pay. For these benefits to be awarded, a doctor will take the employee off of work. Total disability benefits can be awarded if an injury becomes permanent. The way an injured truck driver can know whether the injury is permanent is if the authorized treating physician gives an anatomical impairment rating.

Does It Matter Who Was at Fault in Order to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

It normally does not matter who was at fault for an accident when filing a workers’ compensation claim. It typically operates as a “no-fault” system, meaning the employee must only show that he or she got hurt in the course and scope of employment. For example, if you were making a delivery and driving on your typical route when your car began to skid on ice and then crashed, your claim should be covered. However, if you had taken a detour to run a personal errand, it may not be covered.

No matter how an accident occurred, it is important to conduct a thorough investigation. If it turns out a third party’s negligence contributed to your injury, you could simultaneously assert a third party claim against that individual or entity while you recover workers’ compensation benefits.

At Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, our personal injury lawyers help injured workers recover the benefits to which they are entitled by law. For a free consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer near you, call us toll-free at 800-529-4004 or complete our online form. Our firm handles accident and injury claims throughout Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky. Let us show you why NST is the way to go.

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