Can I Receive Compensation for Injuries When Outside of My Truck?

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America’s trucking industry is the driving force in our nation’s economy, and Arkansas is at the heart of America’s trucking industry. Today, Arkansas is recognized as an industry leader. Perhaps no other Arkansas-based industry has so successfully carved out its position in the state and national economy. Arkansas’s trucking industry advances our state and our nation in countless ways. Trucking’s impact is felt everywhere.

However, even though Arkansas truck drivers contribute to our nation’s economy, long working hours, irregular shift and day-off patterns, and many consecutive nights away from home and family can make truck driving an arduous career. Delivering or picking up loads can be taxing – drivers are often required to wait in their trucks for long and unpredictable periods of time; they may be denied opportunities for food, water, and restroom facilities; and they may be treated disrespectfully by shipping and receiving personnel.

If you have been injured while at work you may have questions about when you can receive workers compensation. Ken Kieklak of the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak has helped hard-working Arkansans navigate the workers’ compensation system following a serious injury. He can assist you in navigating the rules, processes and procedures that make up the Arkansas workers’ compensation system. Ken Kieklak fights for hard-working people who have experienced difficult circumstances.

Arkansas Truck Driver’s Fatal Injuries Sustained While Crossing Street After Break Are Compensable

Recently the Arkansas Court of Appeals agreed with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission that a truck driver who was fatally injured while crossing the highway to get to his truck after stopping at a rest-stop should receive compensation.  The court found that the truck driver was performing employment services at the time he was fatally injured. But what does performing employment services mean for you?

To begin, a compensable injury is one that arises out of and in the course of employment, but it does not include one that is inflicted on an employee at a time when employment services are not being performed. The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Act does not define the phrase, “in the course of employment” or the term “employment services.” However, the Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled several times that the test for whether an injury occurred during the course of employment is whether the injury occurred within the time and space boundaries of his employment when the employee was carrying out the employer’s purpose or advancing the employer’s interest directly or indirectly.

Arkansas Courts have found that injuries in the following circumstances were compensable:

  • Injuries sustained by employees during restroom breaks
  • Injuries sustained while employees are on their way to and from bathroom facilities
  • Injuries sustained by employees during breaks that benefit the employer
  • When it is clear that the injury occurred during a break that was solely to benefit the employer, even if the break was not required.

Whatever “employment services” means must be determined within the context of the individual cases, employments, and working relationships, not generalizations made devoid of practical working conditions. Even when an employee is engaged in conduct that is not related to the employer but is not inconsistent with the employer’s interests then the employee may be compensated.

What Happens if My Injury Occurs Off-Premises

If an injury occurs when the employee is not on company premises or property, this does not necessarily mean that they won’t be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits. This is particularly true when the worker must travel by the very nature of his or her employment.  The courts have placed special emphasis on whether the facts show that the employee is returning from work after a break when they are determining if an injury is compensable. The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission is bound to examine the activity the appellant was engaged in at the time of the accident when determining whether he was performing employment-related services.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

A broad array of workers compensation systems developed around the turn of the 20th century as industrial economies took hold in the United States and throughout the world. These systems developed in recognition of the fact that industrial work, by its nature, can produce severe injuries or death. Following an injury, workers’ families faced a choice: struggle to make ends meet or take the risky step of suing one’s former employer. Employers then would have to defend in expensive litigation and face potentially huge monetary awards for damages after a severe injury or wrongful death. Such a system soon proved unworkable and workers’ compensation systems were developed. Workers’ compensation exchanges the potential for large monetary awards for injured workers for certainty in the administration of claims.

What Type of Wage Benefits Can a Truck Driver Receive?

Injured truckers can also receive compensation for lost wages due to their disability. Wage benefits do not start immediately, however. Rather, compensation for lost wages begins on the eighth day of you disability. However, in the case that you are disabled for a longer period of time, you can receive compensation for the seven initial days. That is, after being disabled for fourteen or more days, you can receive benefits for the first seven days.

The amount of wage compensation you can receive is based not only on your salary but also on your level of disability. The levels of disability and accompanying wage benefits are:

  • Temporary total disability (TTD) – Injuries that are believed to be recoverable from but nonetheless severe and 100% debilitating. Temporary total disability is capped at 450 weeks and 66.6% of the gross average weekly wage. It is also subject to state maximum payments.
  • Temporary partial disability (TPD) – An injury or disability that is not complete and expected to resolve. This category is also subject to a 450-week cap.
  • Permanent partial disability (PPD) – Permanent partial disabilities will not improve and do not result in 100% disability. There is a schedule set forth in §11-9-521 detailing the payments for each affected body part.
  • Permanent total disability (PTD) – Permanent total disability is the most serious level as the condition will not improve and is a 100% disability. Permanent total disability claims filed on or after 1/1/2008 are subject to benefits caps that are adjusted annually.

Put Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Ken Kieklak’s Experience to Work for You

For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak of the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak has fought for hard-working Arkansans who are injured at work. To schedule your free and confidential initial consultation with a workers comp lawyer, call (479) 251-7767 or contact us online today.

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