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“I was referred to Stewart Poisson after my accident. I was unhappy with the lack of service I received by my company’s Workman’s Compensation representative and after meeting with Ms. Poisson, I was extremely impressed with her knowledge and professionalism. I immediately felt confident with Stewart Poisson and her staff. They were extremely thorough when preparing for my case. I was well prepared for what to expect, consistently updated with the status of my case and encouraged to offer my input. The feeling of confidence when dealing with a talented, experienced firm dedicated to their clients is priceless. Stewart Poisson is extremely knowledgeable, talented and genuinely cares about her clientele. Her paralegal, Celia, was very supportive and helpful through every step of the process.
My case was an extremely complicated one that involved not only a Workman’s Compensation claim but also a Personal Injury claim. Stewart Poisson seemed to navigate these complexities with ease. My final result far exceeded my expectations. There is no way that I would have had such a positive outcome without her representation.”
─ T.T., Wilmington, N.C.
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You have options if you are a trucker who sustained an on-the-job injury. Workers’ comp can cover your medical bills and pay disability benefits that can lighten your financial load. In some cases, it might be possible to hold another party responsible for your injuries, too.
Sometimes, getting compensation for your workplace injuries can be complicated. You must file a claim with your employer’s workers’ comp insurance and the Industrial Commission to get payment for your work-related injuries. The process can seem overwhelming, but not if you have a skilled trucker injury lawyer on your side.
The law firm of Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, has extensive experience in helping truckers receive workers’ comp benefits for their injuries and appealing claim denials or disputing undervalued claims. We also help truck drivers seek compensation in personal injury claims when a third party is at fault.
Contact us today for a free case review and consultation. Our trucker injury attorneys are ready to guide you through the process and keep you informed all along the way.
Hurt Truckers May Be Entitled to Compensation in Wilmington
North Carolina statutes require employers with three or more employees to carry workers’ comp coverage for truckers, even if they are independent contractors. If they hire an owner-operator of a truck, they must carry workers’ comp insurance if the owner-operator does not have it.
Some employers attempt to replace workers’ comp coverage with Occupational Accident Insurance (OAI.) However, it is not a legal replacement for workers’ comp. OAI only covers specific injuries and pays limited benefits. Unlike workers’ comp insurance, the state does not require employers to carry OAI.
Another possibility for compensation is a third-party claim. These claims arise in motor vehicle accidents, unsafe premises accidents (slip, trip, and fall), or injuries from unsafe products, for example. A third-party claim could be appropriate if the trucker sustained injuries caused by someone other than the employer or co-workers.
Workers’ compensation claims cover medical bills, occupational therapy, travel reimbursement, and a portion of lost wages due to injury. Third-party claims could provide additional compensation, including pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and lost income potential.
What Does a Trucking Workers’ Comp Claim Entail?
Workers’ comp for truck drivers starts with these steps:
- Notify your employer of your injury
- Seek medical attention
- Follow through on treatment orders
- Submit a written injury report to your employer
You likely notified your employer verbally when you sustained an injury. However, you must also give them formal written notice using Form 18. The law requires you to provide this form to your employer within 30 days.
The Industrial Commission must receive Form 18 within two years. If you hire an attorney, they usually complete the form and provide it to the employer and the Commission at the same time.
However, your employer’s workers’ comp carrier may deny or undervalue your claim.
Reasons your claim may be rejected or underestimated can include:
- Your injury did not happen during work hours
- Your injuries were not that severe
- You have a pre-existing condition that contributed to your injuries
- You are an independent contractor and not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits
When this happens, you have 15 days to appeal. You start the appeal by filing Form 33 with the Industrial Commission to request a hearing.
The Commission requires mediation before a hearing will be held. During this mediation, you will attempt to agree on a solution. The mediator will facilitate discussion and recommend a course of action. They will provide their recommendations to you, your employer, and the Commission.
If you disagree with the recommendation, the next step is a hearing. At the hearing, both sides will present evidence and cross-examine witnesses. A deputy commissioner will review the evidence and decide whether you are entitled to benefits.
If the deputy commissioner does not grant you benefits, you have 15 days to appeal the decision to a three-judge Full Commission. You can appeal an additional denial to the state Court of Appeals and even the state Supreme Court.
The appeals process is easier if you hire an attorney with a truck driver employee rights background. They know which approaches or evidence could result in a successful appeal.
If your injury was caused by a third party, you have three years to file a civil lawsuit against them. This type of claim starts with filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier, negotiating with the insurance company for a settlement, and, if an appropriate agreement cannot be reached, pursuing a lawsuit in court.
What Work-Related Injuries Can I File For?
A few examples of truckers’ job-related risks include falls, motor vehicle accidents, exposure to toxic materials, and defective or broken equipment. Routine tasks like lifting cargo, moving trailers, and stepping in and out of trucks can lead to devastating injuries.
Common trucker injuries may include:
- Trucker’s knee – Also called driver’s knee, this painful repetitive stress injury results from long driving with constant braking and accelerating, as well as stepping into and out of tall commercial trucks.
- Back and neck pain – Truckers may feel sore after sitting too long. They can also herniate and rupture discs from lifting cargo and moving tandem dollies around or from bouncing around in trucks with insufficient shocks. These injuries may evolve into disc degeneration.
- Muscle and tendon strains or tears – Heavy lifting and moving can stress muscles and tendons. Also, falls from the cab or unsafe conditions cause these injuries too.
Carpal tunnel syndrome – This condition affects wrist tendons and ligaments. Securing loads, shifting, and steering strain the carpal tunnel causing numbness and pain.
Treatments for these injuries range from physical therapy to surgery and joint replacement. Workers’ comp benefits become essential since recovery usually means time off from work.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for My Injuries?
Responsible parties may include:
- Employers (if self-insured)
- Workers’ compensation insurance carrier
- Third parties, such as an at-fault driver or a manufacturer of a defective truck part
Call a Wilmington Truckers Advocate Lawyer for Legal Help
If you are an injured trucker seeking workers’ comp benefits in Wilmington, look no further than Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC. We are board-certified workers’ compensation law specialists and can help you benefit from workers’ comp laws for truck drivers.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.