Can I File a Workers’ Comp Claim As a Truck Driver After an Accident in Ohio?
Driving a truck for a living is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have in the United States. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), each year more truck drivers die on the job than workers in any other occupation. Non-fatal truck accidents are even more common, and each year numerous truck drivers find themselves in need of a Columbus workers’ compensation attorney.
If you are a truck driver in Ohio and you have been injured in an accident, it is important to have an accurate understanding of your legal rights. Here is an overview of what you need to know:
5 Important Facts about Workers’ Compensation for Truck Drivers in Ohio
1. If You Work for a Company, You Should Have Access to Workers’ Compensation
Ohio law requires employers to purchase workers’ compensation coverage. If you work for a company—whether a trucking company, a retailer or any other business—you should have access to workers’ compensation. If you are an owner-operator, then whether you have access to workers’ compensation depends on whether you are paying for coverage.
Most companies in Ohio are “state-funded employers” for workers’ compensation purposes. This means that they pay for insurance through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). It also means that, in order to seek benefits for your on-the-job accident, you will need to follow the BWC’s policies and procedures. This starts with filing a First Report of Injury, or FROI-1 as soon as possible.
Some companies, mostly large companies like Amazon, are “self-insuring employers.” If you work for a self-insuring employer, you will need to file your workers’ compensation claim directly with the company. This presents its own unique set of challenges; and, regardless of whether you need to file your claim with the Ohio BWC or your employer, you will want an experienced Columbus workers’ compensation attorney on your side.
2. You Must Have Been Injured in the Course of Your Employment
To qualify for workers’ compensation, you must have been injured in the course of your employment. In other words, if you were injured in an accident on personal time, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation—even if your injuries prevent you from working.
In the vast majority of circumstances, a trucking accident will qualify as “in the course of employment.” If you were making a delivery or driving to pick up a shipment, your accident should qualify you for benefits.
While most truck drivers need to seek workers’ compensation benefits for injuries suffered in collisions with other vehicles, you don’t necessarily need to be driving in order to suffer a job-related injury. As we have previously discussed, slipping on ice or wet pavement while walking to your truck, being injured at a loading dock, and suffering from heat exhaustion are all examples of incidents that could entitle you to workers’ compensation benefits as well.
3. If You Were Intoxicated, This Might Make You Ineligible to Receive Benefits
Let’s say you were intoxicated at the time of your accident. Maybe you had been drinking or smoking, or maybe you took a medication that impaired your ability to drive. If this is the case, does it mean you are ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits?
If your employer or the Ohio BWC can prove that you were intoxicated, this creates a presumption that you are ineligible for benefits. But, you can overcome this presumption by showing that your intoxication was not a factor in your accident.
The fact that you were drunk or high does not necessarily mean that you are to blame for the collision—in fact, numerous other factors could be to blame. When you hire a Columbus workers’ compensation attorney to represent you, your attorney will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the accident. If this investigation reveals that your intoxication was not a factor, your attorney can then present evidence to establish your right to benefits.
4. There Are Several Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
When filing a workers’ compensation claim as a truck driver, it is important to make sure you are seeking all of the benefits that are available to you. Regardless of the severity of your injuries, you should be able to secure medical benefits. These are benefits that cover the cost of your medical treatment until you get better or reach your “maximum medical improvement.” If you are unable to drive as a result of your injuries, you should also be able to collect one or more of the following:
- Temporary total disability
- Permanent partial disability
- Permanent total disability
Each of these types of workers’ compensation disability benefits provides partial coverage for your lost earnings. The amount you can recover depends on your wage or salary, whether you are able to work in a limited capacity, and how long you will be unable to perform your normal job duties. Other benefits you may be entitled to collect include:
- Working wage loss or non-working wage loss benefits
- Loss of use
- Facial disfigurement
- Living maintenance
- Violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR) award
5. Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim May Not Be Your Only Option
Finally, when you are struggling to cope with the effects of an accident as a truck driver, it is important to know that filing a workers’ compensation claim may not be your only option. For example, if a negligent driver caused the accident, you could have a claim under his or her insurance policy. Or, if you crashed because of a truck defect, the truck’s manufacturer may be liable for your losses. There are many other possibilities as well, and an attorney who has experience representing injured truck drivers should be able to file all available claims on your behalf.
Talk to a Columbus Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Free
Were you injured in a truck accident on the job? If so, we invite you to schedule a free consultation at Malek & Malek Law Firm. To speak with an experienced Columbus workers’ compensation attorney in confidence as soon as possible, call 888-444-7440 or request an appointment online now.