Every Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer for truck drivers understands how truck drivers put in a lot of work and hours on the road to keep the economy running. However, this exposes them to a wide range of serious hazards unique to the trucking industry. Unlike most other professions, truckers are constantly behind the wheel, which puts them at a higher risk of an eventual accident.
Truckers also tend to suffer from debilitating back injuries, repetitive strain injuries, and even injuries caused by violent attacks and assaults. If you drive a delivery truck, over-the-road truck, or other commercial truck for a living, we understand that you face serious risks every day. You can be injured on the road, at the unloading or loading docks, or anywhere in between. Being injured far away from your home or where your employer is based could complicate your efforts of claiming worker’s compensation.
If you were injured while doing your trucking job in Charlotte, get in touch with the worker’s compensation lawyers at Waple & Houk Law for world-class representation you can trust. Our team is always ready to help our clients secure the maximum settlement amount. Get in touch with us today at (704)954-8697 to schedule a free case evaluation.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance obtained by business owners or employers that is meant to give employees who are injured or get ill while on the job compensation benefits. North Carolina law requires that employers obtain workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. For truck drivers, workers’ compensation is meant for truckers who are injured on the job, not just in trucking accidents.
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act is the law that stipulated the payment of medical benefits as well as wage loss benefits for employees, including truckers, who are injured while on the job. The employer and their insurance company are usually held responsible for covering all costs associated with the medical treatment that the doctor recommended.
The workers’ compensation law also provides for wage replacement benefits that amount to two-thirds of your average weekly wage for the time you spend out of work due to the injury. If the authorized doctor assigned you a rating for a specific body part or organ, you might receive payment for permanent or partial disability.
What Is Covered By Workers’ Comp in North Carolina?
Workers’ compensation is meant to pay for medical expenses and lost wages from time spent away from work. The wage loss benefits may include:
- Temporary partial disability benefits
- Permanent partial disability benefits
- Temporary total disability benefits
- Total and permanent disability benefits
The wage loss benefits will be paid out if you miss more than seven days of work because of the work injury. Note that there’s a seven-day waiting period for workers’ comp benefits in North Carolina, and the benefits should continue until you can return to work or up to 500 weeks (with some exceptions). If you can return to work after the work injury but are unable to earn as much as you did before the injury might make you eligible for some wage loss benefits.
North Carolina workers’ comp may also consist of other benefits based on the circumstances surrounding the injury. These include:
- Travel mileage reimbursement benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits
- Disfigurement compensation
- Death benefits
A Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney for truck drivers can discuss with you the kind of benefits that you may be entitled to during your initial case review with us, free of charge.
Keep in mind that when you collect workers’ compensation benefits, you will no longer be entitled to seek compensation from your employer through a personal injury claim. But there are some cases where an injured employee could file a personal injury suit against a third party whose negligence is determined to have been responsible for the injury. Talk to us today to learn more about how the North Carolina laws apply to your case.
What Are Some of the Common Injuries to Truck Drivers?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 47,990 nonfatal injury and illness cases among private-sector heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in 2019.
Two main kinds of injuries are covered by workers’ compensation: occupational injuries or illnesses and traumatic injuries.
A traumatic injury can be anything from a slight concussion to a spinal cord injury, amputation, or traumatic brain injury. Some types of truck accidents that often result in traumatic injuries include underride accidents, rollover, unsecured loads, etc.
Some of the injuries that commonly occur in truck accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Internal organ injuries
- Seat belt injuries
- Rib and torso injuries
Truck drivers are also susceptible to repetitive stress injuries that might cause pain, tingling, numbness, and other sensation in almost any part of their body. These are typically caused by driving trucks for prolonged periods.
What Should I Do if I’m Hurt on the Job?
Here’s what you need to do if you were injured while doing your trucking job in Charlotte.
Notify Your Employer
The first thing you want to do is to let your employer know that you have been hurt, preferably in writing. Type an email or letter explaining what happened and keep a copy for yourself. You must report your work injury within 30 days.
Get to a Doctor as Soon as Possible
You should seek medical attention as soon as you can. You need to visit one of your employer’s (or their insurer’s) approved medical providers.
Keep a Written Record of Your Injury and Symptoms
Create a journal to document the whole ordeal, right from the moment of the accident. This should help you avoid forgetting some critical details about the incident, and to make sure your story is consistent.
Take Photos and Videos of the Injury if Possible
If you can, take photos or videos of the injuries you sustained, no matter how minor they might seem. This will help to strengthen your case and increase your chances of receiving the maximum compensation.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim With the Help of an Attorney
In North Carolina, all workers’ compensation claims are handled by the state’s Industrial Commission. Workers have the responsibility to file a claim with the Industrial Commission once they are hurt while at work. Failing to do this promptly might cause you to permanently lose your rights to compensation.
Take all time you need to rest well and make a full recovery.
Steps for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
A Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer for truck drivers at Waple & Houk Law will guide you through the claims process.
Report Your Injury to Your Supervisor
As mentioned in the previous section, you must report your injury to your employer within 30 days. Failure to provide this notice will mean that your employer won’t be able to initiate the claims process on your behalf.
Attempt to Resolve the Claim Informally
This could end up saving you and your employer a lot of headaches, time, and costs if you can avoid involving the courts. But if you can’t reach an amicable resolution with your employer or their insurance company, proceed to the next step.
Contact a Qualified Attorney
Many truckers that are injured while at work often misunderstand their rights under the Workers’ Compensation system of North Carolina. Claims end up being unfairly denied or reduced as injured parties haven’t realized that they are entitled to a lot more under the state’s workers’ compensation system. That’s why you should reach out to an experienced Charlotte, NC, workers’ comp lawyer at Waple & Houk Law to learn more about your options.
File Your Petition for Benefits
If you’re unable to reach an amicable agreement with your employer and their insurer, you should file a petition for benefits. This is a formal appeal of the decision made by the insurance company. You have to provide documentation that shows the nature of your injury, the benefits you believe you are eligible for, and why you believe their decision is wrong. You can have your workers’ comp lawyer handle this for you.
What Are My Rights After an On the Job Injury?
You have the following rights under North Carolina workers’ compensation laws:
- A right to workers’ compensation no matter your immigration status
- A right to refuse the offer made by your employer to pay outside of workers’ comp
- A right to receive workers’ comp benefits even if you get paid in cash
- A right to transport assistance, travel reimbursement, and a translator where necessary
- A right to continue with your medical treatment
- A right to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer
- A right to dispute the denial of a claim
What Can I Do If My Claim Is Denied?
In case your workers’ comp claim was denied, you can appeal the decision with the help of a competent lawyer. This should give you enough time to rest and recuperate while your lawyer handles the legal side of things on your behalf. At Waple & Houk Law, we will develop the best legal strategy to counter the insurance company’s decision and make sure you get the compensation you rightfully deserve.
You can appeal the decision before the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which is responsible for administering the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. It acts as the court that deals with claim disputes involving workers’ compensation.
When you receive a letter of denial from the insurance company, don’t hesitate to contact your lawyer to find out your legal options.
What If I Am an Independent Contractor?
In North Carolina, independent contractors usually don’t qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. This is why some employers try to categorize their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying compensation and insurance premiums.
Some factors will have to be considered to establish the employment status of truck drivers. The primary determinant here is the employer’s control of a driver’s work. Some of the questions to consider here include:
- Is the truck driver responsible for setting their own working time?
- Can the driver hire assistants?
- Is the truck driver paid by the hour or at a fixed cost?
These questions will help determine whether you should be categorized as an employee or an independent contractor. For instance, if your employer decides what you should wear during work hours, where and when to report for work, and pays you by the hour, then you are an employee.
How Can a Workers’ Comp Attorney Help Me?
Working with an experienced workers’ comp attorney can greatly improve your chances of getting justice and receiving the compensation benefits you need and deserve. Our lawyers can help you with:
Our team is ready to collect all of the relevant evidence and conduct thorough investigations to build a strong case on your behalf. Once we determine liability and the value of your claim using the available evidence, we will file a workers’ comp claim for you.
You should ideally have a skilled negotiator by your side to help you during settlement talks. Our lawyers can aggressively negotiate with the insurance company to make sure you get the best settlement amount.
Appealing Denied Claims
We are ready to appeal the insurance decision on your behalf. We will look into the response and attach all of the supporting information to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve. We will work hard to determine whether the insurer acted in bad faith. We can help you request a hearing before the Industrial Commission and represent you.
Representation at Workers’ Comp Hearing
If your claim is denied, we are always ready to help you request a hearing before the Industrial Commission. We will work tirelessly to ensure your rights and best interests are well protected.
How Much Does a Qualified Workers’ Comp Attorney Cost?
Our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t need to pay any fees until we win your case. This will let you focus on making a full recovery without worrying about spending any more money.
Talk to a Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Truck Drivers Today
Being injured while doing your work can be such a stressful experience. This is especially true for truckers. Aside from having to deal with the injuries and getting proper treatment, you must also deal with your employer and their insurance company, not to mention the workers’ compensation system.
Knowing the law and your rights is half the battle. This is why you should consult with a Charlotte, NC workers’ compensation lawyer to get advice on your case. Don’t hesitate to contact Waple & Houk Law today at (704)954-8697 to schedule a free case review.