After a motor vehicle accident involving a truck, truckers are often held responsible whether you are truly at fault or not. As the operators of larger and more dangerous vehicles, laws hold you accountable for exercising more diligence than other drivers on the road. So, what can North Carolina truckers expect after a crash when it comes to workers’ compensation?
According to the North Carolina Industrial Commission, trucking companies must carry insurance for workers’ compensation. In fact, this insurance often covers even drivers who are called independent contractors, not just employees.
Know your rights
An important first step to protecting a trucker’s workers’ comp claim is knowing the rights and privileges afforded by the state. This includes the limitations. Even if you are called an independent contractor, especially if you do not have an individual license from the U.S. Department of Transportation, you might become eligible for workers’ compensation.
North Carolina states that it does not accept Occupational Accident Insurance as a proper substitute for workers’ compensation. It might, however, provide an excellent supplement as it pays out some limited benefits and covers very specific injuries truckers might encounter on the job.
In most cases, however, if does not provide benefits that are as good as those provided by workers’ compensation. If you have been injured, and your employer and insurance carrier are telling you that you are not eligible for workers’ compensation, because you are an “independent contractor,” you should call a qualified worker’s compensation lawyer, to make sure that that is true. It usually is not.
During an emergency, the state recommends prioritizing health over benefits. It recommends that the trucker seek medical assistance, even if the employer does not carry insurance. The person might then need to report the lack of insurance and seek approval from the Commission. Note also that workers should report an accident to the employer as soon as possible and must file a claim within two years.
Knowing what benefits apply to you might come down to your specific work relationship and several other details in your contract. If you have any questions about this, you should contact a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer.