Driving a truck is not an easy way to make a living. The physical and mental demands are significant, as are the risks of on-the-job injuries. When truck drivers are injured on the job or develop an occupational injury or condition, like employees in other industries, they are entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
Securing these benefits can be a complicated process, and there are steps to follow to prevent a claim denial. If you are a truck seeking workers’ compensation benefits, connect with a workers’ compensation attorney from John Foy & Associates for legal guidance and representation.
Eligibility Requirements for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In Georgia, business owners with three or more employees must purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Employees are covered by this insurance on their first day on the job. To collect benefits, injured employees must prove their injury is job-related or occurred on the job, and a workers’ compensation attorney can help the injured worker gather the evidence they need and file a claim.
Truck drivers who work for a company are likely part of a team of three or more employees and, therefore, eligible for benefits. However, some companies hire truck drivers as independent contractors, so the company can avoid providing coverage for those drivers.
A workers’ compensation attorney can help in this situation. In some cases, companies miscategorize drivers as independent contractors but are still required to cover them under state and federal labor laws. An experienced attorney will navigate those laws and determine if the driver qualifies for coverage. If the driver truly is an independent contractor, an attorney can help file an injury claim against the employer or other parties.
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What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Provide
Employees cannot sue employers when they, the employees, are injured at work or develop a work-related medical condition. Instead, they must apply for workers’ compensation benefits. In Georgia, these benefits provide:
- Coverage for emergency medical costs and ongoing care
- Partial recovery of lost wages
- Potential disability benefits, temporary or permanent
- Death benefits for survivors of drivers killed on the job
Georgia is not a “maximum medical improvement” state, which is a good thing for injured truckers. What this means is benefits will continue even if the trucker’s condition will not show improvement. Further, drivers may receive benefits for as long as they are out of work. A workers’ compensation lawyer will help the driver comply with requirements to keep the benefits active.
Job-Related Truck Driver Injuries
Trucks are massive vehicles outfitted with complex steering and braking systems and typically coupled with cargo-laden trailers. Operating these vehicles comes with a set of dangers not experienced by drivers of passenger vehicles.
Because of their size and weight, trucks take longer to come to a stop and can be more difficult to control at high speeds. Any shifts in cargo can put a truck off balance, causing it to jackknife or tip over. The potential for truck accidents is great, and the injuries drivers sustain are often severe.
On-the-road accidents are not the only sources of injury for truck drivers. Injuries can occur when loading or unloading cargo when performing truck inspections or maintenance or from repeated job-related motions. Among many others, job-related injuries for truck drivers include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Back and neck injuries from lifting cargo, sitting for extended periods behind the wheel, or from collision
- Nerve, muscle, tendon, or other tissue damage
- Damage to internal organs
- Broken bones
- Amputations or lacerations
- Carpal tunnel syndrome from continuously gripping the steering wheel
How a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help Injured Truck Drivers
When you sustain an on-the-job injury or are diagnosed with a job-related condition, partner with a workers’ compensation lawyer from John Foy & Associates right away. Your attorney will guide you through the claims process and, prepare you for interviews with insurance companies and examinations from an independent medical examiner, and give you important reminders about what to do or not do as you pursue benefits.
Georgia’s government website documents the process for filing a workers’ compensation claim. First, you must report the incident or diagnosis to your employer within 30 days, which will involve filling out paperwork and describing the accident and injury in some detail. You are not legally required to, and should not, give either your employer or the insurance company a recorded statement.
The insurance company, and possibly your employer, will require you to undergo an independent medical examination conducted by a physician who is not part of your personal medical care team. Your attorney will help you prepare for this visit.
You will need to gather documentation of your medical condition and employment and complete and submit a WC-14 claim form. A workers’ compensation lawyer will guide you through each of these tasks so you submit a robust claim.
To help you secure and retain benefits for as long as you need them, your lawyer will remind you and will help you do the following:
- Document all conversations with your employer or the insurance company regarding your injury. While you will have to interact with your employer, it is best to have your attorney handle communication with the insurance company.
- Disclose any pre-existing medical conditions.
- Work in a limited capacity as long as these duties uphold your doctor’s orders and will not cause further injury. Do not give in to pressure to return to work too soon or take on risky tasks because if you do and are injured, you may hold culpability for further damage.
- Return to work the right way. If you recover and can return to driving, you must complete the paperwork and get clearance from your doctor. Without clearance, you could again be held responsible for any further injury and lose your benefits.
Protect Your Health, Your Job, and Your Benefits
Truck drivers injured on the job have a team of allies at John Foy & Associates. Our workers’ compensation lawyers know how critical workers’ compensation benefits are to an injured driver’s recovery and financial stability. By reaching out to a workers’ compensation lawyer for a free case review, you put yourself in the best position to get the benefits you need.