Truck drivers have dangerous jobs. Although the size and weight of a big rig serve to protect a truck driver in an accident, an operator can still suffer serious injuries in a traffic collision. In 2018 alone, 112,000 injury accidents involved large trucks in the US. The number of truck occupants killed in accidents in 2018 was 885.
When a truck driver gets injured on the job, he or she may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp is an important type of insurance required by all employers in New Mexico, including trucking companies. It is a no-fault system that allows truck drivers to recover financial compensation for their injuries and losses. Learn how this system works for more information about your claim options.
What Losses Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
In New Mexico, the workers’ compensation system offers financial benefits for an employee’s past and future losses after a job-related accident. All economic losses are recoverable, meaning any money the employee spent during his or her recovery could be reimbursed with an insurance claim. There are four main types of benefits available through workers’ comp.
- Medical benefits. This pays for 100% of a truck driver’s medical bills, including the costs of hospital visits, surgeries, physical therapy and rehabilitation.
- Wage benefits. Reimbursement for the truck driver’s hourly wages lost due to having to miss work because of the accident and injury.
- Disability benefits. If the truck driver suffered a temporary or permanent disability in an accident at work, the driver could be eligible for benefits to cover future lost wages and occupational therapy.
- Death benefits. A truck driver’s surviving family members could be eligible for benefits if the truck driver died on the job. These benefits can cover lost wages as well as funeral and burial expenses.
The benefits available through the workers’ compensation system can help an injured truck driver pay for his or her medical care and return to work without missing any wages while in recovery. In general, it will not matter who was at fault for the injury; the truck driver will be eligible for benefits regardless of fault, as long as he or she can prove that the injury occurred within the course and scope of employment.
How Does Workers’ Comp Work for Truckers?
In the trucking industry in New Mexico, truck drivers who are employees are covered under the workers’ compensation program. The trucker would need to file a workers’ comp claim as soon as possible after his or her accident to receive benefits. The filing process can often be done through the trucking company.
Workers’ compensation works by providing financial assistance to an injured employee in New Mexico without needing to prove fault or negligence. It will not matter whether or not someone reasonably could have prevented the accident; an injured worker will still be eligible for compensation regardless, as long as he or she was on the clock at the time of the injury and did not cause the injury through recklessness or horseplay.
If a truck driver is technically classified as an independent contractor (i.e., as an owner-operator), however, he or she will not be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. If the driver is not an employee, the driver’s only option for financial recovery is a personal injury claim. A successful personal injury claim could also pay a truck driver for his or her losses; however, the trucker will have to prove fault before he or she can recover.
A personal injury claim requires proof that the trucking company or another party owed the driver a duty of care, breached this duty and caused the accident. If you were injured as the owner-operator of a large truck in New Mexico, consult with an attorney for assistance with your personal injury claim. This legal process is more difficult than a workers’ compensation claim. With the right representation, however, you can fight for maximum recovery.