In April, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an emergency declaration temporarily suspending hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for truck drivers transporting certain items and personnel in connection with COVID-19 relief. This marked the first time in the history of the 82-year-old rule that it was suspended on a national scale.
Ostensibly, federal HOS regulations are in place to limit the number of hours a truck driver may operate his or her vehicle, with the intent of lowering the number of fatigued truck drivers on the road and, thereby, reducing the number of truck accidents. The reason for the temporary suspension of HOS regulations was to allow truck drivers to continue working in order to bring necessary supplies, goods, and people to areas of the country experiencing the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, due in part to the suspension, as well as the pressure to meet an unprecedented demand, truck drivers are now at a greater risk of being involved in truck accidents. The consequences of these accidents are often devastating.
So, what can you do if you are a truck driver who was injured in an accident while on the job?
Keep reading to learn more about your options as an injured truck driver in Virginia, or contact the personal injury lawyers at Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, PLLC for a free consultation to learn how we can help.
Option One: Workers’ Compensation
Like most injured workers, you will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation if the accident occurred while you were on duty. In order to bring a workers’ compensation claim, you must be an eligible employee.
You may not be eligible for workers’ compensation in Virginia if:
- Your employer does not employ at least three employees, including part-time and full-time employees and subcontractors
- You are classified as an independent contractor
Unfortunately, employers will often misclassify employees as independent contractors, either due to ignorance or because they want to avoid paying employees’ benefits, including workers’ compensation benefits. If you believe you are misclassified as an independent contractor, reach out to our firm right away.
If you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you can seek the following benefits:
- Medical Benefits: These cover all costs associated with reasonable and necessary treatment for your work-related injuries, including injuries you sustained in an accident.
- Temporary Disability Benefits: These are wage-replacement benefits, meant to compensate you for time taken off due to being temporarily unable to work.
- Permanent Disability Benefits: These benefits are granted to individuals who are deemed to have a permanent disability (according to state guidelines).
Additionally, the family members of workers who die in work-related accidents or due to occupational diseases are entitled to recover death benefits. If you would like to learn more about workers’ compensation benefits and what you may be entitled to receive, contact our firm today.
It’s also important to note that, because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning you do not need to show that another person or party acted negligently in order to recover benefits, there are limits to the benefits you can receive.
Option Two: Filing a Third-Party Injury Claim
In some cases, it may be appropriate to file a third-party injury claim after being involved in a truck accident or suffering a related injury. This is often the case when your employer is not liable for the incident and/or when you are not eligible for workers’ compensation.
A third-party injury claim can be filed against another person or party who was responsible for the accident and/or your injuries. This could be another motorist, the manufacturer of a defective product, a construction company, or any other liable third party. You may be able to file a third-party injury claim in addition to workers’ compensation, but note that you cannot file a third-party claim against your employer. You may wish to file a third-party injury claim if workers’ compensation is insufficient to cover the cost of your damages or if you wish to seek compensation for pain and suffering, as well as other non-economic damages.
Option Three: Social Security Disability Benefits
You may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if you suffer a debilitating work-related injury that affects your ability to work for a long period of time or permanently. SSDI benefits can be recovered in addition to workers’ compensation and/or a third-party injury settlement or verdict.
If you are a truck driver who was injured on the job, whether in an accident or due to other factors, contact Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, PLLC for a free consultation regarding your legal rights and options.