Drivers

3 Things Drivers Need to do in Workers’ Comp Claims

November 2014, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive

by Corey Lile

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The threat of injury is real and pervasive for truck drivers. Consider these on-the-job risks alone:

  • Loading and unloading cargo
  • Slips, falls and strains from entering and exiting cabs
  • Repetitive body stress over extended time periods
  • Falls from loading docks
  • Raising heavy truck hoods
  • Handling heavy trucking equipment (such as removing the fifth wheel pin)
  • Traffic accidents

Not only are these risks hazardous in and of themselves, but they can be amplified after drivers spend long periods of stationary time driving, meaning workers’ compensation has become a calling card of the trucking industry.

While the burden often falls on the company owner to provide workers’ compensation insurance for drivers, how drivers respond to an injury plays a pivotal role in the cost of a claim. Drivers have their own responsibilities once injured, and without heeding them, even a small injury can transform into a costly claim.

1. Understanding company procedures for reporting injuries

Many truck drivers operate under very independent job descriptions, and for long haul drivers, they may not have direct contact with supervisors for extended periods of time. So a supervisor may not always know when an accident has occurred, especially a minor incident or an internal injury.

Immediate communication by the injured driver is essential to starting a cost-conscious claim. In a workers’ comp case, lost time can severely affect your final claim cost, so it's vital that the injury gets the medical attention needed promptly. Quickly reporting a claim is also the best way to get an accurate report, before memories fade.

Make sure drivers know who to contact when they are injured on the road or on a site, and that they are trained to make a report right away. Make sure strict guidelines (such as mandatory 24-hour reporting windows) are set in place and routinely reviewed with drivers.

2. Communicating alternative work availability

Many trucking companies offer drivers the option to return to work through alternative work assignments before an injury has fully healed. These light and modified duty programs, which can include clerical work and other stationary tasks, are key factors in lowering lost-time claim costs.

Often, drivers don't live near the terminal, so alternatives to standard modified duty should be put in place. These could include national programs that place the driver doing volunteer work at one of thousands of non-profits throughout the United States.

However, these become irrelevant if drivers or employers don’t let their treating physicians know that light or modified duty options are available.

Make sure your drivers are knowledgeable about their company’s return-to-work policy and give their doctor all necessary forms and materials. Otherwise, a doctor may not deem a driver physically able to return to work, simply because he is not yet well enough to endure a traditional long haul trip -- when he or she could actually be back on the payroll by answering phones at company headquarters until he is ready to return to regular duties.

By the same token, employees must also communicate with supervisors on any work restrictions made by their doctor so temporary duties are appropriate to the worker’s injury. If an injured driver must remain homebound, the driver needs to communicate with his or her supervisor at least once a week to update his progress so appropriate duties can be set up as soon as the worker is able to leave home.

3. Merging back on the road

When it’s time for an injured driver to transition back on the job – either through modified or regular duty – drivers need to help in the claims process by providing all relevant paperwork. Drivers should provide copies of doctors’ work status releases to their workers’ compensation coordinator and return to work on their next scheduled shift.

Drivers must comply with all physician-requested work restrictions, both on the job and at home to ensure that the injury improves – rather than worsens.

As the process to a full recovery continues and drivers regain control of the wheel, they should give their supervisors regular updates on the injury’s progress.

The moment that communication stops with an injured driver, the harder it will be to maintain cost control over a claim and ensure drivers are healing properly.

Corey Lile is the founder and CEO of OccuSure Workers’ Compensation Specialists, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based company specializing in lowering workers’ compensation claims, particularly in the trucking industry. This article was authored under the guidance and editorial standards of HDT's editors to provide useful information to our readers.

Comments

  1. 1. Richard [ November 11, 2014 @ 09:15AM ]

    1 Get your own doctor, not one the company wants.
    2 Keep a notebook of answers to every question you have answered, for future reference when questioned again.
    3 The minute your check is late or any dispute arises, hire a workmans compensation attorney, do not talk to anyone from tour employer from that date on.
    Trust me your employer is not your cfriend or family regardless of the bs they spout...they are paying you therefor they actually hate your guts.
    Follow these rules and you will make more money, have less stress and be properly compensated.

    Stay off the loading docks and do not touch freight when you are being paid by the mile NE VER do anything you are not PAID for.

  2. 2. Chris [ November 15, 2014 @ 07:55AM ]

    Richard,
    Your first 2 comments gave you some credibility. The 3rd was absurd. You have no idea of what all companies provide or how they deal with their employees. Statements such as yours do no good for our industry of society in general. How can a company "hate your guts" and put you behind the wheel of a truck?

  3. 3. martha [ November 15, 2014 @ 10:34AM ]

    So sad workers Comp is a good law for people who is injure but is also a door open for people with no morals who just want to be claiming something that never happen and expect to get Money without working not thinking all the damage they do to their employer that open their doors to them trust them and give them work , I have see many cases of workers comp and 70% are not real people are just doing fraud and taking advantage of the hand that feeds them Workers comp is very expensive but it will protect you. Of this kind of people. You may get some free money from them cuase you play smart a injure but never forget EASY COME EASY GO. Let's all work in peace and let's all put this country up and progress not Frauds.

  4. 4. David [ June 23, 2016 @ 01:13PM ]

    Martha and Chris are correct. Most worker's have no idea what goes into a worker's comp claim. I've never worked anywhere that the employer, deliberately tries to jerk the employee around. The company has no power in these situations. The employee has all the power because the law is almost, completely in the employee's side. Company's have to be careful because many employees try to fake injury in an effort to get a big pay out. The company just wants to get the person back to work. Richard needs to know more before he starts typing. I wonder if anyone ever called Richard "Dick"?

  5. 5. ivakeel [ August 28, 2016 @ 05:13PM ]

    such good advice, and another big challenge is that cases often involve both a workers' comp and personal injury claim so multiple law offices are typically involved. we are an advocacy law matching group and work with many truck drivers in CA trying to make the complex legal waters a little easier to navigate. Feel free to reach out to us [email protected] www.ivakeel.com

  6. 6. Randy Brumlow [ September 08, 2016 @ 06:49PM ]

    I was involved in an accident November of last year, it wasn't my fault. I didn't receive a ticket. The company's insurance is paying for my medical bill's but I'm not receiving any pay for time off. I was told that if I did I wouldn't be able to drive for any truck companies again. Is this true?

  7. 7. Carlar Rowe [ January 07, 2017 @ 06:12PM ]

    I was sitting on a truck for a company that i am employeed with. Team driving. For some reason my team driver blind sides me with a very hard bliw to the top of my head. I called my dispatcher to report as soon as i could see move and think. They called dot . i was taken to the emergency room. Cat scan drug screen alcohol test. Diagnosis head traumatic brain injury with pieces of bones broken from my neck. This trucking company has not allowed me to be treated medically or even receive therapy. My condition is not getting better. I am now having a lot of head aches so me black outs. Still in pain. My primary care physician days i will not be able to drive again. I need dot to know that this company dose not stand by its employees. What do i do. Help

  8. 8. Carlar Rowe [ January 11, 2017 @ 05:44PM ]

    I was assaulted on the truck by my co driver. No i understand a few faked their head injuries sham on them. This is not funny or fun to deal with.

  9. 9. Angelo greenwood [ June 10, 2017 @ 05:02PM ]

    I got injured on the job i drive a 45 ft bus i filed a work comp claim the companys dr put me back to work with restrictions limited pull limited push and no lifting over 25lbs does driving a bus considered modified work? Twisting and turning the wheel will involve moving my back muscles which injured also lifting the engine compartment door to do a bus inspection that door weighs more than 25 lbs i dont think i can drive now im still in pain

  10. 10. Corey Norman [ June 30, 2017 @ 05:10PM ]

    Last year while driving for a different company than presently with I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, i didn't file a claim cause I didn't know of this option. However, my BP is being treated with meds but still will not come down, the company is sending me home until a doctor release s me. While out of work can I file a workers comp claim? It's a medical condition that my present company is a warehouse of. I was on the truck driving when asked to come to the nearest terminal and go home until the Dr releases me.

 

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