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Workers’ Compensation laws vary by state. Some heavily favor the insurance company and employers, others are stronger for workers. Illinois has common sense workers’ compensation laws that are very strong for workers legitimately hurt on the job.
Just like other types of employees, the threat of injury is real and pervasive for truck drivers. Truck drivers that are injured on the job, whether in an accident on the road or performing other job duties, like servicing their truck or loading and unloading, are entitled to workers’ compensation. If you get hurt in Illinois, principally work out of Illinois or were hired out of Illinois, you can file for benefits here. Under IL law, traveling employees are covered for most injuries even if it’s not while on the clock.
When it comes to workers’ compensation, Illinois is just better in regards in many ways. In many states, the income received from workers’ compensation is limited. Other states put a cap on the total received regardless of injury and others mandate you to use their chosen doctor and not a doctor of your choice. Some states allow nurse case managers to talk directly to your doctor or attend your appointments. Those problems don’t exist in Illinois.
Another tricky factor when it comes to truck drivers and workers’ compensation is that many trucking companies often like to label their drivers as “independent contractors’ for various reasons. The biggest reasons are Independent contractors are responsible for their own taxes and don’t always qualify for Workman’s Compensation.
However, there are many gray areas to whether a truck driver is an employee or an independent contractor of a trucking company, and therefore whether or not qualifies for workers’ compensation when injured. These factors are applied case by case. Here are some factors courts typically look at in making a determination if someone is an employee or an Independent Contractor:
1. Is the trucking company in control of the driver’s work performance?
2. Does the driver set their own hours for work?
3. Can the driver decline certain loads or jobs?
4. Is it the company or the driver establish the given routes?
5. How is the driver paid? Weekly, hourly, mile, etc.?
6. Can the driver contract with other trucking companies?
7. Is the driver required to wear a uniform?
8. Is the driver required to adhere to company standards and/or attend safety meetings required by the company?
9. Is the driver allowed to keep the equipment on a nightly basis or is required to return the equipment?
10. How is the wording in the contracts between driver and trucking company?
The more they control you, the easier it is to show you really are an employee even if they pay you as a 1099 or you signed a document stating you don’t work for them. If you can be proven to really be an employee you can get work comp benefits.
We get that this can be confusing. If you’d like to discuss it for free with a lawyer, please contact us at any time.