What to do if you’re hurt while driving a truck for work
Arizona has quite a large number of nationally respected trucking companies. ABF Freight, headquartered in Fort Smith, is one of the most well-known trucking companies in Arizona because it has been in business for nearly a century. Other notable trucking companies in the state include Northland Trucking Inc., Eagle KMC Transportation and Central Arizona Freight.
Arizona also has some of the most dangerous roads in the country, including Interstate 10. Truck accidents on roads, highways and interstates across the state of Arizona and nationwide produce around 2,000-3,000 injuries per year. However, trucking injuries are not only caused by accidents, but by the trucking lifestyle in general.
Common truck driver injuries and occupational illnesses
Truck drivers often have to load and unload heavy boxes. These repetitive motions can lead to musculoskeletal disorders of the neck, back and upper extremities. Workers often overextend themselves while loading or unloading, and they can find themselves in excruciating pain and may struggle to perform their duties.
Slip and falls are another common ailment of truck drivers. The worst type of falls are those that are from an elevated platform when a worker performs a delivery on an upper floor. A worker may also fall out of the back of a truck. Or they might trip and fall when unloading a truck, putting on tire chains or lifting a latch on the back of a truck.
Truck drivers are also commonly injured outside their trucks by various objects found at a loading station, such as a vehicle part, lift gate, pallet jack, winch bar, box, carton, binder or chain. Being hit by these objects can lead to back injuries and strains.
However, by far the most common reason for a truck driver injury is a motor vehicle accident. When a truck driver collides with another vehicle, the injuries can be severe and even fatal. Some truck drivers lose control and rollover their own vehicles.
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
Workers’ compensation benefits for injured truckers in Arizona
Some truck drivers are independent contractors who own their trucks. In this case, the employer who hired the driver generally does not have to offer workers’ compensation insurance. However, if you are a worker employed for a trucking company, there are several benefits you may be entitled to.
For starters, you might receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits if your doctor decides that you are unable to return to work due to your injuries. However, even if you’re able to work, but at a reduced state, you may still qualify for temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits.
Your temporary benefits only last until your doctor believes that you will no longer continue improving. Then, they will determine if you have a permanent disability due to your injuries. If so, you will be qualified for permanent disability benefits under Arizona law. If you are able to work in a limited capacity, you might still be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits.
PPD benefits are based on a schedule that factors in the extent of your injuries and your pre-injury wages. If you suffer partial loss of an extremity, you’ll receive 50 percent of your weekly pay. You’ll receive 55 percent for a complete amputation or total loss of use. You’ll receive 75 percent of your wages if you cannot return to work due to the loss of a limb.
If your limb is completely disabled, you will receive benefits forever. However, if your injury was partial, your benefits will last for a number of months proportionate with the extent of your injury. For example, if your doctor believes that you lost 50 percent of the function of your leg, you will receive disability benefits for 25 months.
Disability for other parts of your body, such as your organs, will only qualify you for disability benefits if you are unable to work as a result.
Can truck drivers in Arizona get workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation cases can be more complex for truck drivers than in other industries because truck drivers travel through several states. For example, if you are from Arizona, but you are injured in California, this might complicate your personal injury case.
If you are injured (regardless of where the accident occurred), be sure to report the injury to your employer so they can report your claim to the insurance provider.
Your employer or their insurance provider may request that you see a doctor they have chosen for your first examination. After you have seen that doctor, you may choose your own doctor for further treatments under Arizona law.
Legal counsel for injured truck drivers
Make no mistake that workers’ compensation insurance carriers will do everything they can to avoid paying claims or convince you to settle for less than you deserve. If you run into any trouble, get help from an experienced Arizona workers’ compensation attorney.
You will probably need to get an attorney involved if your claim is denied or if you receive a settlement offer that doesn’t fully cover your medical expenses. You should also seek legal counsel if your benefits don’t arrive on time.
If your benefits haven’t arrived, you may wonder how you could afford an attorney. Fortunately, our lawyers will not charge a fee until you have received your benefits.
An attorney can also help you if you’re concerned about employer retaliation or you are worried that other medical issues may complicate your case. When you’re in doubt, seek legal counsel.