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Are Truck Drivers Eligible for Compensation if They’re Hurt in Crashes?

July 25, 2022

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Semi-trucks cut an imposing figure on the road. These cargo-hauling behemoths can be 14-feet tall, 65-feet long with a trailer attached, and weigh up to 80,000 pounds.

Even the largest pickup trucks and SUVs are no match for semi-trucks in collisions, and semi-truck drivers often walk away without a scratch while the occupants of other vehicles are severely injured.

However, semi-truck drivers can be injured in crashes, even killed—and not all crashes are their fault. Like motorcyclists, semi-truck drivers often face uphill battles when it comes to getting compensation for their injuries, as everyone from police officers and other drivers, to insurance companies and even civil court juries may believe they’re liable for accidents even when they’re not.

Thankfully, facts and evidence can help semi-truck drivers get compensation when they’re injured in crashes.

Truck Drivers Who Are Employees May Be Eligible for Workers’ Compensation

Around 11% of truck drivers are independent contractors and aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. That means that if they get hurt in crashes that weren’t their fault, they must sue other drivers or at-fault parties to get money for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Truck drivers who are employees of businesses, whether it’s retailers, manufacturers, or trucking companies, may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits after crashes as well as damages from the at-fault party—especially if their crashes occurred while they were on a shift. However, it is also important to note that while workers’ compensation does cover medical expenses and partial lost wages, it does not provide any compensation for pain and suffering. 

Crash Causes Where Truck Drivers Aren’t at Fault

When truck drivers aren’t employees and so aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation, they must file injury claims against at-fault parties and their insurance companies or through the legal system. They also must be less than 51% at fault for the accidents to receive compensation due to Ohio’s comparative negligence system.

There are many causes of injury-causing truck accidents that aren’t the fault of their drivers. They include:

Truck drivers losing control while attempting to avoid collisions

Truck drivers know that any collision involving a passenger vehicle can be fatal for its occupants. They must be hypervigilant of potential crash situations, and many drivers will do anything to avoid one—including putting themselves in danger by swerving or even driving off the road. When truck drivers crash while attempting to avoid collisions with negligent drivers, they can file claims against those drivers if they can prove that they lost control because of the drivers’ negligence.

Truck drivers losing control due to truck component failure

Truck drivers often drive trucks that belong to the companies they work for or private trucking companies that lease their vehicles to other businesses. When truck drivers are injured because of vehicle component failures, including brake failures, tire blowouts, trailer decouplings, and more, they can hold the truck owners liable for failing to maintain them. They can also sue the manufacturers of the truck or the components that failed if negligent design caused their crashes.

Trucks being hit by passenger vehicles

Although trucks are much bigger than other passenger vehicles, truck drivers can still be injured in collisions with cars, trucks, and SUVs. Even when the initial collisions don’t injure them, they can be seriously harmed if the collisions cause their trucks to leave the road and roll over or strike other objects, such as trees, guardrails, or even buildings.

Trucks being hit by other trucks

When two semi-trucks collide, the results can be disastrous for drivers and other nearby motorists. The weight and size advantage that semi-truck drivers have over other vehicles is nullified when they collide with other semi-trucks. Truck drivers who are injured in crashes with other trucks can sue the same way passenger vehicle occupants can sue when they’re injured in these types of accidents.

Should an Employee Driver Sue vs Filing for Workers’ Compensation?

It may be easier for injured employee drivers to get compensation through workers’ compensation compared to suing other people or parties for their damages, but often both are available.

Some truck drivers are employees, but own their trucks. If they’re injured in crashes while driving their trucks, but they aren’t “on-the-clock” or performing a work-related task, they can’t file a workers’ compensation claim. Instead, they would need to sue the at-fault parties directly to get compensation.

Our Ohio Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You Take the Right Steps

It’s not always easy or straightforward to know how to proceed after a truck accident injury, especially when you’re a truck driver. In Ohio, many companies misclassify truck drivers, which can make eligibility for workers’ compensation a contentious topic that often requires the help of an experienced legal team to resolve.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our lawyers know that truck drivers can be victims in crashes, too. Don’t be denied the money you need for your medical bills or lost wages, whether it’s because the insurance company believes you were at fault or because your employer has misclassified you. Our trucking and worker’s compensation attorneys can help you get all the benefits and damages you’re entitled to. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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