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truck driver accidentTruck drivers are treated differently from other workers in North Carolina workers’ compensation law. Typically, a business with three or more employees must provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for its employees. But North Carolina law requires most trucking companies to provide workers’ comp for their injured truck drivers regardless of how many people they employ or whether their truckers are employees or independent contractors. Whether a truck is licensed by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) may affect how its driver must be insured.

The complexity of workers’ compensation law, as it applies to commercial truck drivers, makes it easy for unscrupulous trucking companies to claim they owe nothing to a trucker who has been injured or killed on the job. A 2023 review of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers had the eighth-highest fatal injury rate in 2021 among private industry jobs and ranked 65th for nonfatal injuries.

Workers’ compensation for a truck driver who has been injured on the job should pay the trucker’s medical bills, a portion of their weekly wages, and other costs arising from their workplace injuries. If your company or their insurer is denying you workers’ comp medical benefits, you should speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. In Raleigh, N.C., the workers’ comp lawyers at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., are committed to helping injured truckers and their families claim all of the benefits after a serious work-related injury.

Why Injured Truckers Should Engage Our Workers’ Comp Lawyers

The legal team at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., includes founding partners Chip Younce and David E. Vtipil. Chip and David are board-certified by the North Carolina State Bar as specialists in workers’ compensation law. David has also been named to the nation’s Top 100 Injured Workers’ Attorneys and has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America in the field of workers’ compensation law.

The injured truck driver compensation lawyers at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., have helped many truckers recover fair compensation after suffering debilitating injuries on the job. We will stand with you. Our legal team includes staff members who speak fluent Spanish and English.

At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, we can pursue workers’ compensation claims on a contingency fee basis. We will not charge you a fee unless we recover money for you. We provide each client with hands-on care and personal attention. Our law firm uses a state-of-the-art case tracking system to ensure that no client’s needs are overlooked.

Contact us today to get started with a free evaluation of your legal options. Reach out online or at 919-661-9000 now. We serve all of North Carolina, and if you can’t come to us, we can come to you.

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North Carolina Workers’ Comp Laws for Trucking Companies

North Carolina law (NCGS § 97-19.1) requires that owner-operators who drive a large truck, tractor, or tractor-trailer licensed by the U.S. Department of Transportation be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, even if the operator is deemed to be an independent contractor.

If the trucker has not purchased workers’ comp coverage, the motor carrier that has contracted with them to drive or haul goods must provide appropriate workers’ comp coverage. This applies to principal contractors, intermediate contractors, and subcontractors, regardless of whether the trucking company regularly employs three or more employees.

In general, responsibility for providing workers’ comp lies with whoever the truck’s U.S. DOT number is licensed to. A motor carrier is not liable for the workplace injuries suffered by an independent contractor who:

  • Is individually licensed by the U.S. DOT and
  • Personally operates the truck solely pursuant to that U.S. DOT license.

If you have been injured while driving a truck for a motor carrier and there is disagreement about who should provide workers’ comp coverage to you, you should contact a truck driver injury workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover for Truck Drivers?

If you have been injured or become ill while contracted or employed to drive a long-haul transfer truck or while engaged in activity within the “course and scope” of your work as a truck driver, you are likely eligible for workers’ comp benefits.

Workers’ compensation is similar to no-fault insurance coverage. You have a right to workers’ compensation benefits even if your own error led to your injury – unless you were injured because you were engaged in horseplay or were intoxicated.

If an occupational injury or illness causes you to miss work for more than seven days, you are entitled to workers’ comp benefits that:

  • Pay all medical bills associated with your covered injury, including rehabilitation therapy if needed.
  • Pay you about two-thirds of the weekly wages you lose while unable to work.

If you cannot return to truck driving or other work because of an occupational injury or illness, you may receive additional compensation for a partial or total permanent disability. If you have to take a lower-paying job because of your injury, workers’ comp may make up a portion of your lost wages. If you need additional training to return to work, workers’ compensation should pay for that, as well.

You may be eligible to receive wage replacement payments for up to 500 weeks.

If a truck driver has been killed while on the job, workers’ compensation pays a death benefit to the trucker’s spouse and/or dependent children. A death benefit lasts at least 500 weeks. A minor child receives benefits until the age of 18, even if that is more than 500 weeks.

How Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help

It’s not uncommon for a truck driver to be unfamiliar with the benefits they should receive from workers’ compensation insurance after a truck accident. It’s also not unusual for motor carriers to tell eligible truckers that, because they are independent contractors, they do not qualify for workers’ comp.

An experienced workers comp lawyer can determine your eligibility for workers’ comp and help you demand every dollar you deserve to have. If you are a U.S. DOT-licensed truck driver and maintain your own workers’ compensation coverage, we can help you recover full compensation from your insurer.

Common Injuries Suffered by Truck Drivers on the Job 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says workers in the trucking industry experienced the most fatalities of all occupations, accounting for 11% of all worker deaths in a recent year. Over 75% of fatally injured truckers were involved in motor vehicle accidents. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the third-highest rate of nonfatal injury and illness when compared to workers in all other occupations.

Some of the ways truck drivers are killed and injured include:

  • Truck accidents with other vehicles or rollover accidents, which may cause death, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, whiplash/neck injuries, internal organ injuries, or broken bones.
  • Falling from truck cabs, trailers, or loading docks and slipping and falling on roadways, parking lots, and trailer beds.
  • Being struck and crushed by forklifts that overturn or fall from loading docks.
  • Sitting for long periods, which causes back pain and strain that can lead to slipped, ruptured, torn, or herniated discs and degenerative disc disease.
  • Loading and unloading materials, which can cause sprains, strains, and injuries to the back, neck, and/or shoulders.
  • Being exposed to toxic chemicals that pose a wide range of health hazards (such as irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity) and physical hazards such as flammability, corrosion, and reactivity.
  • Suffering repetitive motion injury and other general wear and tear to joints and other soft tissue from climbing in and out of a tall vehicle; jumping off trailers; lifting, loading, shifting, tarping, chaining, and unloading gear and cargo; operating the truck’s clutch, gas pedals, and gear shift; etc.
  • Hearing loss due to constant exposure to loud engine noise.

After you have been out of work for seven days because of a workplace injury, you qualify for workers’ compensation and should notify your employer. If your employer does not promptly cooperate with initiating a workers’ compensation claim for you, you should file a Form 18 Notice of Accident (or Form 18B for lung diseases) with the N.C. Industrial Commission and send a copy to your carrier. Then, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney.

Younce Vtipil Baznik & Banks personal injury law team

Contact Our Experienced Raleigh Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Truck drivers based in North Carolina may be covered by workers’ compensation insurance they purchase, or that is maintained by the motor carrier they drive for. Either way, if you drive a truck for a living and are injured or become ill because of your job, you may be eligible for assistance with medical bills, lost pay, and more.

The Raleigh workers’ compensation attorneys of Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., can assist you with a disputed workers’ compensation claim. We will stand up for your rights before the North Carolina Industrial Commission if needed. if you or a loved one has been injured while driving a heavy truck or tractor-trailer for a living, you should understand the benefits available to you. It will cost you nothing to discuss your workers’ comp claim with one of our experienced Raleigh workers’ compensation attorneys.

Call us now at 919-661-9000 or contact us online for a free claim review and advice about your legal options after suffering a work-related injury. We understand your challenges and will provide you with dedicated legal services and the personal care and attention you deserve.

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