How to get compensation if you’re injured while driving a truck
With more and more people choosing to shop online these days, trucking and delivery companies are in high demand. In fact, there are almost 8,000 trucking companies located in South Carolina alone. Unfortunately, due in part to long hours on the road and the need for frequent heavy lifting, truck drivers are at risk of experiencing a wide range of injuries.
Common truck driver injuries
Truck drivers are at risk for injuries from accidents that occur while driving but also from the job duties they’re required to perform. Below are some of the more common injuries that affect truck drivers in South Carolina.
Sprains and strains
Sprains and strains are often the result of heavy lifting, but the fact that truck drivers are often sedentary for long periods of time may also contribute to the potential for sprains and strains. Additionally, truck drivers are at an increased risk of making unhealthy diet choices due to limited options on the road, which can lead to reduced muscle tone, further increasing the risk for sprains and strains.
Truck drivers are at risk of developing repetitive injuries such as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. Such injuries often stem from the need for truck drivers to keep their arms and hands resting in the same position while driving. The vibrations from the road and their truck can also contribute to such injuries.
Slips and falls
Truck drivers are at risk of slipping or falling as they climb in and out of their trucks, particularly in bad weather and during the loading and unloading of cargo. Slip-and-fall accidents most frequently result in fractures of the wrist, arm, shoulder, ankle or hip, as well as head and brain injuries.
How to prevent truck driver injuries
The following tips can help to reduce the risk of common injuries experienced by truck drivers:
- Implement a stretching routine
- Consume a healthy diet to maintain muscle tone
- Eliminate potential distractions while driving
- Pull over and rest when feeling fatigued
- Use proper posture when driving or lifting heavy objects
- Follow all safety regulations and procedures
Workers’ compensation for truck drivers
Most truck drivers in South Carolina qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they’re employed by a trucking company and injured in the course of performing their job duties. Through a workers’ compensation claim, you may be eligible to receive benefits to cover:
- Lost wages (past and future) while you recover from your injury. This amount is typically two-thirds of your average weekly wage for a period of time that varies based on your disability.
- Medical expenses, including doctor’s appointments, surgeries, medications, artificial limbs and assistive devices (such as crutches).
- Death benefits to be paid to your dependents in the event that a work-related injury results in death.
What is not covered under workers’ compensation benefits
Workers’ comp does not provide compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
In order to receive compensation for pain and suffering, an injured truck driver would need to file a personal injury claim. However, under South Carolina law, workers’ compensation is considered an “exclusive remedy,” meaning that you aren’t allowed to sue your employer if you receive workers’ comp benefits.
In some cases, however, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim against a negligent driver or a parts manufacturer (if a manufacturing defect led to the accident). An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on the best course of action to recover maximum compensation.
What happens if you’re an independent contractor?
To be covered by workers’ comp benefits, you must be legally classified as an employee. Truck drivers who are classified as contractors rather than employees are not usually covered by workers’ comp benefits.
Although all situations are different, the following factors can play a role in determining whether a driver is an independent contractor or an employee:
- Whether the driver of the trucking company controls the driver’s work schedule
- Whether the driver has the ability to accept or decline certain jobs
- How much control the trucking company exercises over the driver’s duties
- Whether the driver is required by the trucking company to wear a uniform
- How the driver is paid
- Whether the driver must use their own equipment or is provided with equipment
Unfortunately, in some instances, trucking companies will attempt to deliberately classify drivers as contractors rather than employees in order to escape their responsibility of providing workers’ comp benefits. If you believe you’re entitled to workers’ comp and your employer tries to deny your right to benefits, reach out to a workers’ comp lawyer who can review your case and explain your rights.
When to contact a South Carolina workers’ comp attorney
Workers’ compensation laws are complicated, especially when they involve injuries and accidents with truck drivers. There are rules and procedures that must be followed in order to receive workers’ comp benefits, and there is a statute of limitations on how long you have to file a lawsuit if your benefits are denied.
The best way to ensure your rights are protected is to consult an experienced workers’ comp attorney. They can help you navigate the process and negotiate with your employer and their insurance company so you get the maximum benefits to which you’re entitled.
If you’re a truck driver who lives or works in South Carolina and you’ve suffered an injury on the job, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. Our firm has more than 30 years of experience fighting for workers in South Carolina. We’ve recovered over 300 million dollars for our more than 9,000 satisfied clients, and we’d love the opportunity to help you too. Contact our office today for your free, no-obligation consultation.