There are approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers who drive more than 400 billion miles on the road each year. According to The Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is about as fast as the average of all occupations. Despite the positive outlook for the field, being a truck driver is a tough occupation. Truck drivers, particularly long-haul drivers, spend countless hours on the road and away from their families. Truck drivers deal with the threat of poor road conditions, accidents, fatigue, and injury. Truckers must also be concerned with repetitive stress injuries and delayed-onset back and neck injuries. In short, there are multiple ways a trucker can suffer an injury causing partial or full disability. But what happens if you are injured while you are driving?
If you are suffering from an injury or nagging condition that has made full-time work impossible, you may qualify for worker’s compensation benefits. These benefits are often awarded routinely, but misunderstandings regarding the system, an independent medical examination that goes badly, and other factors can seriously impact your eligibility. If you have a legitimate claim but are facing pushback from the Arkansas Worker’s Compensation Commission (AWCC) or your employer contact Ken Kieklak at Gunn, Kieklak, & Dennis LLP at (479) 316-0438. He is a worker’s comp lawyer who can fight for you
Arkansas Workers’ Compensation System
Arkansas has established the Arkansas Worker’s Compensation Commission (AWCC) to oversee the worker’s compensation process and has a well-established regimen to determine if an injured employee is entitled to receive benefits. Navigating though the complex process allows for hard-working individuals to temporarily or permanently receive compensation due to a serious injury or condition. 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. Truckers who use the Workers’ Compensation system are often dedicated workers who often agonize over their decision to go on disability. But, in many cases, such action is the most likely the only means for them to continue to provide for themselves and for their families.
Injuries Truckers Face in the Workplace
Truckers always face the danger of having an accident on the highway or on any of the other roads they may cover while driving. Unfortunately, sometimes these accidents result in serious injury. However, accidents while driving aren’t the only workplace injury risk truckers face. Long hours of driving, and loading and unloading heavy cargo can result in repetitive stress injuries and delayed-onset back and neck injuries. There is an array of ways a can suffer an injury. Consider some of these on-the-job risks truck drivers face:
- Loading and unloading cargo
- Slips, falls and strains from entering and exiting cabs
- Repetitive body stress over extended time periods
- Falls from loading docks
- Raising heavy truck hoods
- Handling heavy trucking equipment (such as removing the fifth wheel pin)
- Traffic accidents
Any of these may lead to internal or external harm to the body and result in the trucker not being able to work.
Steps Truckers Must Take to Receive Disability Benefits in Arkansas
Getting benefits under Arkansas’ worker’s compensation system can range from a relatively straightforward process to one that is complex and requires many hearings and administrative proceedings. However, all benefits claims begin with an injury to the worker that must be reported. The trucker then attends a medical examination by a doctor of the employer’s choosing. Steps that a trucker takes that makes it more likely that he or she will not face delays or disruptions in obtaining benefits include:
- Keeping all scheduled appointments with doctors or any agent of the AWCC.
- Completing all subsequent AWCC or employer requests for information in a timely and expeditious manner.
- Reporting any and all earning obtained after the injury report to the AWCC.
- Getting pre-approval before seeking any medical treatment.
- If you wish to change your doctor, you must comply with all required processes and procedures.
- Keeping copy of any records or materials obtained as a result of the worker’s compensation claim.
The above only accounts for the basics a trucker or other injured worker should account for and comply with when interacting with the AWCC. The process an injured worker may go through while attempting to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits might be more complex and drawn-out. For a more detailed understanding of the exact benefits and levels of wage compensation a truck driver can expect to receive from his or her worker’s compensation claim, you can consult our Arkansas Worker’s Compensation Guide or contact an experienced worker’s comp attorney in Arkansas.
If You Think You Need Representation, Call an Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Lawyer That Can Help Your Case
If you or someone you love was hurt at work and you’re interested in applying for compensation, an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney can help facilitate the process and strengthen your claim for coverage. To schedule your private consultation, call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online. The state of Arkansas imposes strict limits on how long you have to file a claim, so don’t wait until it’s too late: get in touch today to start exploring your legal options.