Commercial truck drivers have a difficult job. They are responsible for transporting thousands of pounds of goods across hundreds of miles while navigating traffic on highways and surface streets. Their vehicles have massive blind spots, and turning can be difficult. In inclement weather, stopping a commercial truck may prove difficult. Accidents and turnovers happen frequently. Combine that with the real risk of repetitive stress injuries from the manual work of driving and back injuries from loading their cargo, and you have a very risky profession.
Semitruck drivers face some very specific injury risks. The nature of the work puts you in danger on each shift if you drive these large trucks. Repetitive motion, falls and crashes are all possible sources of injuries. You might opt to file for workers' compensation benefits if you suffer an injury while you are working. These are some points to consider if you are facing this situation.
Some of the most devastating injuries commercial truck drivers can suffer don't occur as they're rumbling down the interstate at 70 mph. They happen when the truck is at a standstill at the warehouse or loading dock.
Commercial trucking can be a dangerous job. There's the risk of theft or hijacking, depending on the content of your truck, as well as ongoing risk of injury due to an accident. Every year, nearly half a million commercial trucks are involved in crashes, causing over 5,000 deaths and 142,000 injuries annually. While those operating or riding in smaller vehicles involved in commercial truck collisions sustain many of those deaths and injuries, many commercial truck drivers are injured on the job every year. If you have been injured while driving a commercial truck, an attorney may be able to help.
Work-related injuries are very common among truck drivers, including back injuries and shoulder injuries. Typically, when a worker is injured on the job, workers' compensation will help cover medical expenses relating to the injury as well as income that is lost because of the injury.
Trucking is tough and truck drivers face a number of occupational hazards. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly half a million large truck accidents occur each year, and many of these crashes result in fatalities on the road. Though non-truck vehicle occupants constitute the majority of fatalities, about a quarter of those killed in large truck crashes are truckers themselves.
Many truck drivers can file their injury claims here in North Carolina even if the driver is hurt in another state. This is because of the "jurisdiction" rules of the NC Workers' Compensation Act. The workers' compensation benefits under NC law may be better than the benefits in other states. For instance, Florida only allows 104 weeks of TTD (temporary total disability) payments. North Carolina allows up to 500 weeks of TTD. Being able to pursue your claim under North Carolina workers' comp law is important if you live here in our state. Your doctors are likely to be here near your home, and it is much easier to fight the insurance company here on your home turf than to have to travel to Kansas or Oregon to do it. Under NCGS 97-36, an injured worker can file his or her claim in North Carolina if:
Compared with the general public, commercial truck drivers are much more likely to encounter health problems. This is the case for a number of reasons linked to the nature of the job: long hours, stress, irregular schedules, limited physical activity, and lack of healthy food options while on the road.
The NC Court of Appeals released its decision on March 19, 2013 in Antelo v. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc., COA12-846. In this case, Wal-Mart had argued that it should not have to pay Mr. Antelo temporary total disability benefits after firing him for "misconduct." His alleged "misconduct" was taking a cigarette break with his supervisor's permission, some time after he suffered a workers' compensation injury. The Industrial Commission found after a hearing and appeal that Mr. Antelo did not engage in any misconduct, and that Wal-Mart failed to prove that he did. Mr. Antelo had performed a reasonable job search while being restricted due to his injuries, so the Industrial Commission ordered Wal-Mart to keep paying benefits. Wal-Mart appealed but was slapped down by the Court of Appeals in an unanimous decision that upheld the Commission's ruling. The Court of Appeals pointed out that under the law, Wal-Mart had the burden of proving that Mr. Antelo engaged in misconduct that justified the firing, and Wal-Mart failed to carry its burden of persuasion on that point. The decision is unpublished and cannot be used as controlling authority, but even so, it represents justice for an man who was fired after getting hurt at work.