Truckers have one of the most strenuous jobs in America. Although some injuries develop slowly over time, most trucking injuries occur suddenly, in some type of accident. Those injuries can be severe and require extensive recovery, such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Truck drivers can get a TBI if they fall off the dock or the truck and hit their heads on the pavement below. They can also get a TBI in a motor vehicle accident.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a TBI occurs when the victim receives a violent blow to the head, shaking the brain back and forth, or fracturing the skull. TBIs include concussions, brain contusions and axonal injuries. Although some of these can be mild, severe brain injuries can lead to permanent disability or even death.
In many cases, a TBI can prevent a truck driver from working for a prolonged period. That’s because a TBI can substantially impact a driver’s reaction time and judgment-making abilities, which are crucial skills for driving a semi.
Do NC workers’ comp laws cover TBIs?
The Tar Heel State requires trucking companies that directly employ drivers to carry workers’ compensation insurance on those drivers. However, many drivers are “independent contractors” and may need to purchase their own workers’ compensation insurance.
Our Workers’ Compensation Act requires that employers must provide their employees with coverage for medical bills and other recovery expenses, as well as wage loss benefits and permanent partial disability benefits. An employed driver who is injured in some kind of accident – a slip, trip, or fall, or a traffic crash – would be covered, unless the cause of the accident was the driver being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Truck drivers who suffer a TBI could receive the following as part of their workers’ compensation benefits:
- Speech therapy
- Wage replacement compensation (66.67% of their pre-injury average gross pay)
- Counseling/psychological services
- Physical/ occupational therapy
Typically, North Carolina workers’ compensation wage loss benefits can last up to 500 weeks, with an option for “extended benefits” if the disability from work is expected to continue beyond 500 weeks. If a truck driver’s TBI prevents them from returning to driving, compensation benefits can cover vocational training to get them into a new occupation.
Truckers deserve to recover
It takes time – months to years – for a TBI to heal fully, which can cause hardship for drivers and their families. Sadly, there will be some employers and insurance companies who reject or deny these claims. Our primary attorney, Bob Bollinger, has experience with these cases and can help an injured driver get the workers’ compensation benefits he deserves.