Were you injured in a truck accident or while truck driving? Our work injury attorneys can help you seek compensation through workers’ compensation and civil litigation.
According to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, there were almost 11,000 accidents involving large trucks in 2019. Of those, 4,759 were semi-trailers, 2,209 were single-unit trucks with 3 or more axles and 111 were double tractor-trailers.
Due to the size and weight of large commercial trucks, it’s common for non-truck motorists to be seriously injured in a truck accident and receive most of the media attention. However, we believe that it’s also important to recognize how many truck drivers are on the job.
If you are a truck operator who was injured—whether in a collision or due to another occupational hazard—it’s important to understand your rights when it comes to workers’ compensation eligibility and benefits in North Carolina.
Common truck accident injuries
Data shows that injuries sustained in a large truck accident are often severe and regularly lead to death. Since the truck driver is typically performing their regular job duties at the time of a collision, an injury behind the wheel of the truck usually qualifies the trucker for workers’ compensation.
In addition, if you were driving a smaller passenger vehicle for your job and were injured in an accident involving a large truck, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Some of the most common injuries truck drivers suffer in accidents include:
- Crush injuries
- Cuts, scrapes and contusions
- Muscle strain
- Organ damage
- Shoulder pain
- Spinal cord injuries
- Whiplash and other neck injuries
The worst injury of all is a fatal one. Truck accidents often lead to severe and catastrophic injuries, so it is possible a driver could die of injuries they sustained.
Non-accident trucker injuries
In addition to injuries that occur during an accident or collision, truck drivers can also suffer occupational injuries and illnesses that are not related to one particular event such as a violent crash. The trucking industry also reports high rates of repetitive motion injuries such as carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and tendonitis. When a driver develops an occupational health condition, they may also qualify for workers’ compensation from their employer.
Are North Carolina truckers eligible for workers’ compensation?
There are some stipulations that must be met in order for an injured trucker to qualify for workers’ compensation after an accident.
For starters, the incident must have occurred during the performance of your job duties and you must have been on the job when the accident occurred. If you were commuting to work or on your lunch break, you might not be eligible for workers’ compensation. In most cases, the driver of a large truck is performing their job duties when they are involved in an accident.
Another important component of workers’ compensation law is that it’s a no-fault system. This means that even if you were the one at fault in the accident, you may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
There are some exceptions, however, which is why it’s important to consult with a North Carolina work injury attorney if you have questions. For example, if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the injury or accident, then you may not be able to file for workers’ compensation.
What benefits can injured truckers receive?
If you are injured in a truck accident or you develop a chronic condition as part of doing your job, you are eligible to receive monetary reimbursement for your medical expenses, lost wages, vocational rehabilitation and even transportation costs traveling to doctors or treatment locations. Should the injuries result in a long-term disability that prevents you from working, you could also be eligible for temporary and/or permanent disability payments.
If your loved one died as a result of a fatal accident while they were driving a truck, you may also be eligible for additional compensation such as funeral and burial expenses.
It’s worth noting that workers’ compensation does not provide compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering, or emotional distress. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system that makes it easier and faster to obtain benefits, but the compromise is that you generally can’t sue your employer and compensation for pain and suffering is not provided. In order to secure payment for non-economic damages, you would have to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Third-party personal injury litigation
Often, when a large truck is involved in an accident, there may be a third party who is involved. For example, if a vehicle stopped suddenly in the road, causing another vehicle to swerve and sideswipe into your truck, the driver of the vehicle that stopped suddenly could be held responsible.
In North Carolina, you are generally not permitted to sue your employer for a work-related injury. However, you may be able to file a negligence claim against a third party such as another driver, the manufacturer of the truck (in the event of a defective vehicle part), or someone else who can be held legally responsible for the accident.
If your loved one died due to the negligence of a third party, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for lost future wages, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, pain and suffering and more.
When to talk to a North Carolina workers’ comp attorney
After you are injured in a truck accident, it is critical that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Even though you typically cannot sue your employer for a workplace injury, you may have a case against a third party in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. Our attorneys will provide you with guidance regarding what your next steps should be. We will also look out for your best interests to be sure you receive the proper lost wages as some employers calculate that amount incorrectly.
Have more questions?
Contact our law office immediately to see how we can help you. Schedule your free consultation by filling out this easy online form or by giving us a call today. You are under no obligation to hire us right away; our staff will simply offer you suggestions on what your next steps should be. If we feel you have a case, we can help guide you through the process in order to get you the maximum compensation you are entitled to under the law.