Do Seasonal Truck Drivers Need Workers Compensation Insurance?

Truck Driver Workers Comp Insurance Photo of a person driving a vehicle behind a truck

Working as a seasonal truck driver entails much more than just getting from point A to B. There are several health and safety risks to driving long distances, especially during peak season.

Operating such a large vehicle across major highways can be a dangerous occupation that should always be met with the appropriate workers’ compensation insurance. Truck driver workers’ comp is not a negotiable thing for any legal business. But America’s many different states have their own set of rules and regulations around what it looks like.

More defining factors are company size, sector, and the travel distances between pick-up and drop-off locations. Insurance policies are mandatory for all registered businesses (truck-related or not). But what are the legal requirements, and how can small business shipping businesses make decisions around insurance that is beneficial for both employers and employees?

Seasonal truck drivers are wholly deserving of workers’ compensation insurance. This blog post will run through the main points of interest to help your business make more informed and accurate workers’ comp decisions.

What Are Seasonal Truck Drivers, And Why Do We Need Them?

Seasonal truck drivers are short-contract delivery people who work during peak seasons, such as the Christmas holiday season. It is that time of year when the demand for fast deliveries is at its highest, pushing small business shipping companies to hire additional truck drivers for that specific time of the year. It can be challenging for seasonal truck drivers to find work at other times of the year.

In 2022, the world is experiencing a shortage of truck drivers due to prolonged lockdowns worldwide since 2020. Cross-border truckers are also expected to present proof of vaccination, which is still a sensitive topic for many Americans.

This, plus the surge of home delivery orders, supply chain issues, and shortage of available truck drivers, makes the job description in extremely high demand. Some might even say it has never been more important for both big and small businesses to invest in comprehensive truck driver insurance.

Common Trucker Injuries That Require Workers’ Comp

There are many risks that truckers take when performing their duties. Road accidents are among the most common injuries in the US, and truck drivers are exposed to them daily. Here are some of the other most prevalent risks a trucker may need workers’ comp to cover.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD)

Truckers are often required to perform the heavy lifting of boxes, containers, tanks, and everything in between. This causes physical overexertion, resulting in MSD of the hands, wrists, back, neck, knees, and general upper extremities. MSD can have profound, long-term implications if left untreated.

Falls

Trucker employees may fall from vehicles, openings, or stairs while performing their job requirements. Such an instance might occur while unloading heavy objects, walking up and down stairs with heavy objects, or even exiting a truck. Some of the most common injuries associated with falls are back sprains, knee sprains, and broken bones.

Being struck by or against objects

If a trucker is handling large, sharp, heavy, or otherwise dangerous goods, they may be vulnerable to being struck by them. This can happen while unloading containers, lifting hitched trailers, and attaching a trailer to a truck. Poorly stacked or stored goods may also fall on top of a truck driver, causing trauma to the body.

Exposure to toxic substances

If a trucker is delivering or handling toxic substances (such as lead, asbestos, or radioactive objects), they may come into contact that leads to chemical burns, long-term illness, or even death. Due to the subtlety of some toxins, this aspect of workers’ comp can be difficult to trace but is nonetheless a valid and important part of it.

Vehicle-related injuries

One of the most common workplace injuries that a trucker is likely to experience is vehicle and road accident-related. Collisions with other vehicles, loss of wheel control, and general road casualties are all risks that truckers take while doing their job.

What Does Truck Driver Workers’ Comp Cover?

Many truck drivers (both seasonal and full-time) will need workers comp at some point during their careers to help them win a legal battle over an injury claim. Good workers’ comp allows truckers to cover their medical expenses and compensate for their loss of income while they are in recovery. Typical workers’ comp for truck drivers includes:

Essential medical treatment

If a trucker injures themselves on the job, workers’ comp will cover any medical expenses needed for recovery. This can include x-rays, ambulance fees, surgery, medication, hospital stays, etc. Any physical harm in need of medical support should be accounted for.

Wage loss for treatment and recovery period

If an injury is severe, the trucker in question may be required to take bed rest until they are fully healed. Truck driver workers’ comp ensures that whatever wages would have been due during that recovery period are still paid out to the employee, even though they cannot work.

This also helps to support the injured employee’s family, who may have been relying on those wages as their primary source of income.

Rehabilitation costs

Should a trucker require rehabilitation for the physical trauma of an injury, those costs should be covered by the workers’ comp package. This allows the employee to properly recover under the support of a hospital or medical facility. It also reduces the likelihood of another injury happening again.

Death benefits

In the event of a death on the job (or directly related to job requirements) some workers’ comp arrangements ensure that the respective employee’s family receives a lump sum to help cover the funeral cost and support the remaining family members.

In most states, the lump sum will be determined by a percentage of an employee’s wage, paid out in installments over a selected period.

How Workers’ Comp Benefits Your Company And Its Drivers

Like any other type of employee, seasonal (and non-seasonal) truck drivers are entitled to workers’ comp in case of on-duty injury, illness, or accident.

Getting truck driver insurance for your delivery business is essential not just for the sake of the truckers themselves but also for the sake of your business. Without it, you’d be violating several labor laws and become vulnerable to lawsuits from employees who got hurt or ill due to their job requirements – and both legally and practically speaking, that isn’t good for anyone.

Improves employee loyalty and productivity

As a business, arranging proper workers’ comp for your employees is a sign of respect and care for their wellbeing. Healthcare is known for being expensive and inaccessible (especially to marginalized communities), so providing workers’ comp can help them (and their families) feel safe and protected.

This can make employees more productive and loyal to the companies they work for. With the knowledge that their medical expenses and family will be accounted for in the event of an at-work injury, they can put more energy and focus into their job comfortably.

Saves money

Even though workers’ comp can be expensive for companies to pay for, it’s nothing compared to the legal costs of a lawsuit should something go wrong without coverage. If an employee is injured or develops an illness due to job requirements, they can sue your company for a toxic tort lawsuit or personal injury lawsuit.

Protects businesses from lawsuits and liabilities

An employee can’t sue your company for lack of workers’ comp coverage if you have it. Obtaining proper workers’ comp for your employees is a legal requirement, and following that legal requirement validates your business and protects you from avoidable liabilities.

Peace of mind for business owners and employees

When all the legal requirements for workers’ comp are in place, everyone can relax and focus on their jobs. If your business is taking good care of its employees, they will be less anxious, less distracted, and far more likely to conduct their jobs well – as will the people overseeing them.

Do Owner-Operators Also Need Workers Comp?

Many seasonal truckers are owner-operators, which means they own their vehicles independently and offer their services on a freelance basis. This is where employers can become confused, especially when comparing auto liability and insurance rates.

While workers comp is not mandatory by law and companies aren’t required to buy workers comp for their independent contractors, it’s still an excellent idea to have it in place. Nobody is completely safe on the road, and if you’re being paid to transport goods, it’s a good idea to have financial and medical protection.

The finer details of your arrangement would ultimately determine the nature of your workers’ comp options. You can draw up a unique owner-operator workers comp plan that can be adjusted to meet the preferences of everyone involved. It can cover factors like leasing, equipment ownership, travel distance, and which types of injuries are covered. However, if a company isn’t interested in providing this type of cover, it’s suggested that owner-operators seek out their own that meets their specific requirements.

How Much Does Workers Comp Cost In 2022?

The average rates for truck driver’s workers comp in the 2020s are approximately 8% – 15% of their overall salary. Because the average truck driver earns between $57,000 and $60,000 per year, full workers comp coverage would range between $4,500 and $9,000 per annum.

However, truckers (especially seasonal truckers) workers comp is more complicated than your average workers comp package. This is because truck drivers are often required to drive through multiple different states while on the job, and the laws around workers comp change depending on which state you are in.

Even if you have a workers comp plan for your employees, the rules could shift if they are injured in a different state to you. For example, in Alabama, the trucker’s work comp policies stipulate that they are entitled to a $16,000 per annum maximum payout if they miss work due to an injury on duty. This payout is calculated at 66 2/3% of the employee’s average weekly wage and begins to pay out after they have been booked off for 21 days. But in California, the rate shifts to $31,200 per annum with varying conditions attached depending on the length of time the employee is unable to work.

The Bottom Line

So, do seasonal truck drivers need workers’ compensation insurance?

Yes.

Whether the trucker your small business shipping company has hired is seasonal or full-time, you are legally obligated to provide them with a sufficient workers’ comp plan.

This is not only for their sake but also for yours. When all of the fine print around truck driver workers’ comp is sorted out, it means both employees and their employers can go about their day-to-day lives without the risk of a lawsuit on their hands.

Also Read: How Brexit Has Significantly Affected the UK’s Trucking Industry

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