Throughout the United States, truck drivers are the primary movers of goods and raw materials. Some of these truck drivers are independent contractors, working for themselves and with the freedom to take transport jobs from any company Others, however, are employed by trucking companies, retailers, shipping companies or countless other employers who have their own professional drivers on staff.
Regardless of who a trucker works for, he is at risk of suffering certain injuries while performing his job. However, a trucker’s employment status matters after he has suffered a workplace injury because those who are employed by a trucking company may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys want truckers to understand their legal rights after a work injury. We also want to caution truck drivers about some of the most common causes of workplace injury so they can take proper precautions to stay safe.
Truck Drivers and Workplace Injuries
Truck drivers are at risk for a variety of different injuries including:
- Injuries when loading and unloading their truck
- Injuries caused by violent crime while driving their truck
- Injuries due to falling merchandise during the transport
- Injuries when performing truck inspections or addressing basic maintenance issues.
- Slip and fall injuries while on the truck or at the loading facility
While all of these are possible ways in which a trucker can get hurt at work, one of the most common sources of injuries for truckers is traffic accidents. After all, a truck driver spends the vast majority of his career driving his vehicle, thus increasing the chances he’ll be involved in some type of traffic crash.
Traffic Accidents and Truck Drivers
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks statistics on traffic accidents and fatalities. Statistics released this month for the 2011 calendar year held some bad news for truck drivers — the number of fatalities increased significantly. In fact, the number of fatalities among occupants of large trucks was up almost 20 percent in 2011.
This increase in trucking accidents is alarming as it means that truck drivers may be in more danger of a fatal traffic accident than in the past. The NHTSA is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to try to identify reasons for the significant increase in fatalities.
When a truck driver is killed in a traffic accident, his surviving family members may be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits. In addition, a trucker who is the victim of a crash may also be able to make a workers’ comp claim for medical bills and lost wages. The ability of the trucker or surviving family members to make a workers’ compensation claim is going to depend upon whether the crash is considered to be work related and on whether he is classified as a covered employee.
Negligence is not a determining factor in workers’ comp cases, so a trucker could potentially still make a workers’ comp claim in some cases even if there was no negligence on the part of the employer or if the truck driver’s own conduct contributed to the crash.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-303-7770 today.
Georgia Work Injuries: Government Releases Accident & Illness Stats for 2011, Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog, November 7, 2012.