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Law Offices of Bo Katzakian

Injured truckers' classification key for workers' compensation

When a California worker is injured on the job, the classification as to whether he or she is an employee or a contractor can lead to confusion when seeking workers' compensation benefits. For all workers, this can be problematic, but it is especially true for truckers. Industry insiders state that this issue is a growing concern for companies and drivers. When truckers are injured, the lost time on the job and medical expenses can cause them financial strife. To ensure they get the workers' compensation benefits they are entitled to, a law firm experienced in these issues can help.

In the last decade, there were major changes to companies using independent contractors and owner-operators rather than employing their drivers directly. This is done, in part, because workers' compensation had grown so costly to companies. Often, the motor carrier lets the owner-operator show evidence that they have workers' compensation or other insurance coverage like occupational accident insurance. Occupational accident coverage is considered a lighter version of workers' compensation insurance. This does not have the same overall coverage as workers' compensation, but it has more than basic health insurance.

Many companies do not have workers' compensation coverage for subcontractors. There have been court decisions in California ruling that independent contractors are employees and should be eligible for workers' compensation benefits if they suffer an injury or condition from their work. All drivers should have premiums paid by their company so they are covered. Trucking companies can face fines and a workers' compensation claim if they do not make sure a driver has certain kinds of insurance even as an owner-operator or contractor. If there is a workers' compensation claim by a trucker and there is a dispute as to whether the driver was an employee or an independent contractor, the driver should know that the employer could be held responsible if there was a misclassification and a lack of insurance.

Many factors are critical in a workers' compensation claim and for truckers, understanding the classification aspect and how it impacts them is especially important. With workers' compensation benefits, coverage for the medical costs, lost wages and more is vital. If a trucker is injured on the job, having legal assistance to deal with any problems regarding worker classification can be helpful in getting the workers' compensation benefits he or she is entitled to.

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