A Basic Understanding of Workers’ Compensation for Your Truck Drivers

Purchasing Workers’ Compensation insurance for your employees is required in nearly every state in the United States. Some states have laws allowing small companies with only 1 to 5 employees to be without it. Failure to carry this coverage constitutes fraud and carries penalties that vary by state. 

The Hazards of Driving a Truck for a Living

Operating a commercial truck, whether over the road or at a job site, can be hazardous. Common injuries experienced by drivers on the job include traffic accidents, injuries incurred while loading or unloading freight, making roadside repairs, and slips and falls while entering or exiting the vehicle. 

How Much Should I Expect to Pay?

The average cost of Workers’ Compensation for truck drivers comes to about 8 to 15% of the driver’s salary. It’s hard to give an exact figure because truck driving jobs can vary widely. Rates take in such factors as whether the driver hauls hazardous materials, the number of miles they’ll be driving, the radius of operation, and whether they’ve had any prior claims. 

It seems obvious, but your company probably has other employees besides truckers. Make sure you correctly classify each to avoid paying the higher rates required for your drivers. Don’t end up paying truck driver rates for your office workers. 

What Sort of Safety Measures Should I Be Taking?

Take the time to implement safety measures for your drivers. If they drive in adverse weather, make sure they’re wearing adequate snow gear and know how to properly and safely install tire chains. Consider having a requirement to wear work shoes on the job instead of cowboy boots or tennis shoes. Make sure they understand that if they do have to exit the vehicle at the side of the road, they need to be wearing a safety vest and carrying a flashlight after sundown. 

Commonly Seen Injuries

In 2016, the trades and transportation industries accounted for 57% of all Workers’ Compensation claims in the state of Illinois. Some of the more commonly seen injuries included injuries to the back and neck, overuse and carpal tunnel, and traumatic brain and joint injuries. A list from the state of Illinois also includes injuries from violence, contact with hazardous substances, and contacts from objects and equipment. 

If your drivers are going to be loading and unloading the truck, there are forklift and crush-type injuries to be concerned about. Have your truck drivers been trained on how to correctly handle a forklift? When was the last time you conducted a safety class on forklift driving for all of your employees who use one?

Make Safety a Priority

Your drivers should know how to, and be conducting, a safety inspection of their vehicles every day before driving the vehicle. Reminders about safety should be posted around the building for all drivers, including those that might not work directly for you. 

Additionally, make sure your drivers are immediately reporting any safety issues with the trucks themselves. This includes any trucks you lease as well as those you own directly. 

What About the Safety of Non-Employees?

Don’t be afraid to pull a spot check on any trucks run by an Owner/Operator. Even though these people aren’t technically your employees, there are rules designating whether they need to be paying for their own on-the-job injury insurance. 

Safety Around the Yard

You’ll also want to perform safety inspections in your yard. Work-related injuries don’t just happen while the driver is in the truck. They can occur when the truck must travel on foot through the yard to reach the office, their private vehicle, etc. 

Will a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help Me?

Workers’ Compensation lawyers work for the employer and employee. If you think an injury claim is false, be sure to gather as much documentation as you can. This information will be valuable in helping your lawyer determine whether you have a case of fraud against an employee or owner/operator. 

Being a business owner carries many responsibilities. If you hire truck drivers or work with them, you’ll want to ensure that you have adequate Workers’ Compensation insurance to cover any contingencies. Making safety a daily practice is the best method of helping to prevent worksite accidents

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