Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation system was set-up to provide a remedy for workers who have suffered injury on the job. The Workers’ Compensation system enforces the state’s worker compensation laws. Under the system, truck drivers and other workers who have suffered a job-related injury can receive compensation without having to resort to time-consuming and costly litigation that can often strain the employer-employee relationship. Essentially, the system works as a safety net for long-haul drivers, short-haul truck drivers, delivery drivers, and other employees in the state. Since Arkansas’ workers’ compensation laws require most employers with three or more employees to carry insurance of this type or to be self-insured, most workers are covered.
In most cases, filing a workers’ compensation claim is similar to filing an insurance claim. This makes sense as the system is intended to provide, in a sense, a type of insurance to workers. However, the workers’ compensation system does have its own complexities that may not be intuitive. Some of these particularities can confuse people who are not familiar with the system and result in mistakes that may endanger your claim.
Furthermore, truck drivers are often in a unique position among workers in the state. That is, many if not most, workers come in and work a 9 to 5 and have frequent day-to-day contact in the office. For truck drivers, especially long haul drivers, days or weeks may pass on the road without setting foot in the facility. Therefore, this post is intended to provide some tips for truck drivers who may have suffered a serious personal injury while on the road.
1. Workers’ Compensation Covers Many Common Trucking Injuries
Some truck drivers think that they need to be in a serious accident or suffer some other dramatic and traumatic event to qualify for workers’ comp benefits. While an individual can certainly qualify for benefits in the fashion, a violent accident is not required. In fact, the injury may be one that onsets after years of repetitive hard work. However, repetitive stress, gradual onset, and internal injuries may be more difficult to prove than other types of visible injuries and injuries that were the product of an obvious event. Injuries covered under the workers’ compensation regime include:
- Back, knee, and neck injuries suffered during vehicle loading or through other work-related activities.
- Shoulder, elbow, and other injuries as the product of a sedentary position while driving.
- Injuries to the head including TBIs due to falling objects in a warehouse or on a loading dock.
Generally, injuries that occur during the course and in the scope of employment are covered. However, injuries sustained during horseplay or on a personal errand are not covered. However, due to the nature of employment as a trucker, the insurer may attempt to improperly characterize your conduct.
2. Truck Drivers Should Understand Their Company and Arkansas Procedures for Reporting Accidents
Since truck drivers often work independently, they may not have a HR or other company representative on the scene of the accident or around the area when they complain of gradual onset injuries. Nevertheless, truck drivers must comply with accident reporting procedures set forth by their employer and by the state law.
Essentially injuries must be reported promptly by the driver. If he or she suffered on injury on the road or at a loading or unloading facility, the injury must be reported as promptly as possible. The failure to report the injury may be later used to disqualify a claim or to minimize the severity of the driver’s injuries. Thus it is essential that the driver understands injury reporting policies and reports the injury as expediently as possible. It is also often a wise idea for the trucker to keep a journal of pain, condition and other experiences. Furthermore, it is wise for the truck driver to also keep a log of quests he or she has been asked the answers given.
3. Truck Drivers Should Consult With an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Prior to Filing a Claim
The driver should not assume the company will file a workers’ compensation claim on his or her behalf. Furthermore, due to the nature of the claim and the AWCC’s attempts to find inconsistencies, the worker should also refrain from filing the application on their own behalf. Rather, they should seek the experienced guidance of an Arkansas Workers’ Compensation attorney who can handle the entire process. To discuss how a Workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you call the Kieklak Law Offices at (479) 251-7767 or contact us online today.
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