Truck driving ranks among the most dangerous occupations in New Jersey, due to the long hours that drivers spend on the road. The more time one spends driving, the more likely they are to get into a motor vehicle accident. Truck drivers can also be injured by working on their rigs or handling cargo. When a truck driver is hurt on the job in New Jersey, are they eligible for workers’ compensation?

When Are Workers’ Comp Benefits Available?

A person may file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits when they have suffered an injury or developed an occupational illness in the course and scope of their employment. However, workers’ compensation benefits are only available to employees. Independent contractors may not obtain benefits from the company that has hired them to do work. 

Are Truck Drivers Employees?

Generally, truck drivers are presumed to be employees of the trucking company they work for. A truck driver can only be properly classified as an independent contractor if they meet the following three criteria:

  • The driver is free from the hiring company’s control and direction over how the driver performs their work
  • The driver performs work that is outside the hiring company’s normal business
  • The driver is customarily engaged in an independent trade or business of providing truck driving services

As a result, most trucking companies will not have a relationship with a truck driver that allows the company to classify the driver as an independent contractor. 

How Does a Truck Driver File for Workers’ Comp?

A truck driver who is injured on the job can file a claim for workers’ compensation by:

  • Reporting the accident or their injury to the employer as soon as possible
  • Seeking medical treatment as soon as possible -- an employer has the right to require injured employees to see medical providers that have been approved by the employer or its workers’ compensation insurer. However, injured workers are usually free to seek emergency medical treatment from any provider and still have it covered by workers’ compensation
  • Filing a formal claim with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation if the employer denies the driver’s claim for benefits or fails to pay the full benefits the driver believes they are entitled to

What Kind of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can You Receive?

Under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system, you may be entitled to receive financial benefits that include:

  • Payment of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses
  • Partial wage replacement if temporarily disabled from working or from working full-time
  • Disability benefits if injuries result in permanent disability
  • Vocational rehabilitation services to help retrain into a new job that can be performed within the permanent limitations imposed by injuries

If a truck driver passes away due to a work injury or an occupational illness, their family may also be entitled to recover:

  • Financial contribution for funeral and burial expenses
  • Survivor’s benefits, equal to a percentage of the driver’s average weekly wage, payable to a widow/widower who does not remarry and to minor children

Contact a Rochelle Park Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your New Jersey Workplace Injury Case

A workplace injury can be devastating, particularly if it prevents you from returning to work for an extended period of time. Although New Jersey Workers’ Compensation laws are supposed to provide you with reimbursement for medical expenses and replacement pay for missed time at work, it is not always easy to get the Workers’ Comp benefits you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation lawyer about your situation and get guidance throughout the claims process. The experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients in Mahwah, Paramus, Ridgewood, Englewood, and all across New Jersey. Call (201) 380-7687 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation about your work injury case. Our main office is located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.