After years of working for a trucking company you may join the nearly 350,000 individuals who decided to own and operate their own truck. Owner-Operators are those truck drivers that own and operate their own trucking business. Often times owner-operators lease on to a carrier or they may choose to operate on their own. But what happens if you are leased on to a company and become injured on the job? Do you qualify for workers compensation benefits?
Fortunately, the Arkansas Worker’s Compensation Commission (AWCC) was established to enforce the workers’ compensation laws in Arkansas and to ensure that all covered employers secure insurance coverage from commercial carriers or through self-insurance programs. Additionally, the AWCC regulates workers’ compensation awards to ensure that benefit providers make correct and timely payments to eligible claimants. While employers have the right to challenge a claim filed by a worker, some may abuse this authority and discretion. If you encounter resistance from your employer or the AWCC questions your claim, an experienced lawyer can fight for the benefits you are entitled to receive. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Washington County, AR personal injury lawyer who has worked with trucker drivers and understands many of their common concerns call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law by dialing (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.
Are Owner Operators Eligible for Workers Compensation?
There are many reasons why a truck driver may choose to become an owner operator. They may want some more flexibility in their life, they may want to be able to be their own boss, or they may find that they just enjoy running their own business. However, when a truck driver chooses to become an owner operator there can be some problems with workers compensation. If you are an owner operator that is working for a company you may not be entitled to workers compensation benefits, but you should be aware that depending on the facts of your case you may still be entitled to compensation.
While, almost every worker in Arkansas is protected by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Laws, there are a few exceptions that you should be aware of. Some businesses are exempt from these laws such as those businesses with two or fewer employees. Additionally, railroad and maritime workers do not fall under the Arkansas Workers Compensation laws, but are covered by federal laws. Additionally, the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Law does not apply to employment of agricultural farm labor, domestic help, or employment by non-profit, religious, charitable or relief organizations. Also exempt from the law are personnel covered exclusively by federal law. The key to determining if a company has to pay for workers compensation is whether or not there was an employee-employer relationship
Am I an Employee or Independent Contractor?
As noted above, before you can successfully file a workers’ compensation claim you need to prove that there was an employer-employee relationship. This can be hard to do when you are an owner operator to determining if a company is required to provide workers’ compensation.
An employer has certain obligations that they must fulfill for their employees. Generally an employer must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay social security taxes, and pay unemployment taxes on wages paid to an employee. However, an employer does not generally have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to independent contractors. This fact can make it hard to meet the employer-employee relationship that is required to successfully file a workers’ compensation claim.
To determine whether an individual is an employee under the Arkansas common law rules, at least twenty different factors have been identified. These factors indicate whether sufficient control is present to establish an employer-employee relationship. Each factor has a varying degree of importance and depends on the occupation and the context in which the services are performed. Some of the 20 factors indicating whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor are:
- Does the employee receive instructions from employer
- Does the employee receive training by employer
- Are the employee’s services integrated into the services of the business
- Does the employee render services personally
- Whether or not there was a continuing relationship
- Does the employee have set hours of work
- Is the employee working full time
- Is the work done on the premises
- Does the employee submit reports
- Are expenses reimbursed
- Is the employee provided tools and materials
- Does the employee suffer a profit or loss
- Does the employee work for more than one person or firm
- Does the employee offer services to the general public?
- Does the employer have a right to fire the employee:
- Does the employee have a right to quit?
The AWCC may weigh one or all of these factors when they are reaching their determination. In many ways an independent contractor or an owner operator is different from a regular employee. They are considered to the master of their own time, they often provide their own equipment, and are normally paid by the job or on straight commission.
Contact an Arkansas Workers’ Comp Lawyer That is Ready to Work for You
For nearly 20 years, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law has provided respected and trusted legal advice to people throughout the state of Arkansas. Whether you are seeking Social Security representation, a personal injury litigator, or help with a wrongful death claim, Fayetteville AR workers’ compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak is eager to get to know you and understand your situation. For your free and confidential legal consultation call us at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.
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