Charlotte, North Carolina is a trucking hub. If you are one of many people with a husband who works in trucking—either as a driver, dock worker or cargo loader—your family could end up dealing with a work-related injury.
Truck drivers account for one in six worker fatalities in the U.S. Truckers also account for the highest number of nonfatal worker injuries that lead to missed wages. Find out what to do if your husband suffers an on-the-job injury in trucking.
Do not let your husband downplay his injuries. Insist he see a professional for medical care immediately following the accident, whether he feels injured or not. He could have a pulled muscle, slipped disc or a more serious injury with delayed or hidden symptoms.
Keep track of medical documents, records and bills. You or your husband should also collect information about the accident, such as police records or an accident report. Get photographs of the scene of the accident and any injuries, if possible. Keep a file with any important accident-related information. Also, and this is very important– in North Carolina, the injury and accident need to be reported IN WRITING to the employer, within the first 30 days. If the worker fails to do this, his claim can be denied for “late notice.” So always follow up on the initial oral notice with written notice. The NC Industrial Commission Form 18 is perfect for this purpose, although the employer’s incident report or a simple email or text to the correct supervisor can be enough.
North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws are unique. While an injured trucker may end up with better benefits than in most states, he or she is not automatically covered like in other states. It is crucial to get a workers’ compensation attorney to help your family through the injury claim process. We always give free consultations to injured workers, and we have a package of educational materials that we will mail to you at no charge, that you can read and refer back to any time you wish.
Do not retain just any attorney to handle your husband’s case. Do your research before choosing a lawyer. Find a workers’ compensation attorney who will fight to maximize your family’s financial recovery. Look for an attorney who can offer personal attention, rather than a “settlement mill” – a high-volume, settle them as fast as possible, kind of law firm. A “Board Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law” is a proven expert in this area of the law, and if you limit your search to lawyers who are Certified, then you should be just fine. You can look up a lawyer’s workers’ compensation litigation track record on the Industrial Commission web site. Do that, and make sure the lawyer you want to hire knows how to take a case to court — and is willing to do just that if necessary!
Be careful when speaking to insurance claims adjusters about your husband’s accident. Tell your husband not to give a recorded statement to the adjuster at the beginning, without first talking with a workers’ compensation lawyer. We give free consultations for this purpose. Giving a recorded statement is a common mistake injured workers make, and they often ruin their cases by giving that recorded statement because the worker does not know which details are important, and the adjuster is willing to trick the worker into saying things against the worker’s interests. And an injured worker should never accept a settlement before speaking to a lawyer! I had a case recently where my new client had tentatively accepted a settlement before he came to see me, but after he hired me, I discovered pretty quickly, as soon as I got his medical records, that the amount he had agreed to accept was actually $40,091 LESS than the minimum amount that the insurance company owed him! Fortunately, I was able to prevent him from making a $40,000 mistake! In fact, I expect to eventually get him a lot more than the minimum amount they owe him, so it would have been an even larger mistake if he had not come to see me!
Bob Bollinger, Board Certified Specialist in NC Workers’ Compensation Law