Injured Illinois Owner-Operator? You Still Might Qualify for Workers’ Comp
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act makes truck drivers who own and operate their own vehicles eligible for workers’ compensation benefits when an accident results in injuries.
Workers’ Comp Benefits for Owner-Operator Truckers
Truck drivers who are owner-operators are considered independent contractors rather than employees, even if they drive for commercial trucking companies. Under most laws, independent contractors must pay for their own operating expenses and medical bills. In Illinois, owner-operator truckers may be entitled to collect workers’ comp benefits for truck-related injuries under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act passed by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2007.
Many truckers prefer to own and operate their own trucks because it allows control of work schedules and hours on the road. However, many owner-operator truck drivers face problems with getting workers’ compensation benefits when accidents and injuries occur. Insurance companies often deny claims citing that independent contractors are not employees of a trucking company. When this happens, a workers’ compensation attorney can file an appeal with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) to schedule a hearing. The IWCC will conduct a trial and issue a decision within approximately 60 days.
In previous cases, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled in favor of owner-operator truckers citing that the trucking company and the driver had a business relationship. It noted that the trucking company provided the owner-operator with the trailer for loaded cargo proving an employer-employee relationship. Although owner-operator drivers have a certain amount of independence, trucking companies closely monitor their activities and deliveries to an end destination. If deliveries are late or canceled, customers typically blame the trucking company, not the driver, because their shipping arrangements are made with the company.
When trucking accidents happen, they often result in catastrophic injuries, permanent disabilities, or death. Due to the size and weight of a commercial truck, Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys commonly see severe burns; crushed or amputated limbs; spinal cord damage; internal bleeding; punctured organs; head trauma; and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Fully-loaded semi-trucks and 18-wheelers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. When traveling at speeds of 65-75 mph, the chance of survivors in a truck crash is unlikely. If there are survivors, they are often left with permanent disabilities that impact many facets of life.