Owner-Operator? You May Be Covered by Worker’s Comp!
Owner-operators make up a significant portion of the truck-driving work force, yet just about every company will tell an injured owner-operator that they are not covered by worker’s compensation because they signed an “independent contractor” agreement when they signed on with the company, and since they are not employees, they cannot get worker’s compensation.
That may be true in some states, but may not be true in other states.
In some states, owner-operators are included within the definition of who is an employee under that state’s worker’s compensation statute. Other states specifically exclude owner-operators from the definition of who is an employee. Some states don’t specifically address the issue in their worker’s compensation statutes, but there are judicial decisions which address the issue one way or the other.
The bottom line: if you are an owner-operator and have suffered an on-the-job injury, you may be covered by worker’s compensation – depending on the state in which you pursue your claim, and as a truck driver, you may have a choice of where to file your worker’s compensation claim. Making the right choice can completely change the outcome of your case.
Why would you want to make a worker’s compensation claim when you have an occupational injury disability policy?
The main reason to consider pursuing a worker’s compensation claim is that the overall level of benefits you can receive through worker’s compensation is often considerably higher than the ones you would get through the occupational disability policy. Also, worker’s compensation provides you with access to medical care which you may not receive through your policy. Finally, in most worker’s compensation systems, there is a mechanism for getting benefits restored promptly when they are cut off improperly where this can be quite difficult with an occupational disability policy.
As an owner operator you may have more rights than you think under worker’s compensation – consulting with a well-qualified lawyer can help you get to the bottom of the issue.