Unless trucker is struck by another vehicle, benefits for medical expenses will be covered by workers’ comp
I’m proud to say that I represent many truck drivers. I’ve had the honor of helping many injured truckers after they’ve been hurt in bad accidents and need legal help (many people mistakenly assume that the trucker is the one who causes the majority of these crashes, not the passenger vehicle).
The first legal issue that arises when I’m helping an injured trucker is the question of workers compensation and No Fault insurance. More to the point, who is going to pay for his or her crash-related medical expenses and wage loss.
The answer depends on many factors – especially Michigan’s No Fault auto insurance law and the laws governing auto accidents and work-related accidents that may fall under the exclusive remedy provision of workers comp law in this state.
Today, I want to discuss how this all sorts out where a trucker is injured while loading, unloading and/or doing mechanical work on his or her parked rig.
Next week, I will talk about what happens when a trucker is injured while either entering or exiting his truck.
Loading and unloading a truck – which insurance pays?
Generally speaking, if a trucker is injured while “[l]oading, unloading or doing mechanical work” on his or her parked truck, then workers compensation benefits, rather than No Fault benefits, will cover the trucker’s accident-related medical expenses. (See MCL 500.3106(2)(a))
This scenario assumes, of course, several facts:
- The trucker is an “employee” (note that many trucking companies are aggressively pushing to reclassify truck drivers as independent contractors instead of employees in a mistaken attempt to avoid workers compensation); and,
- The “[l]oading, unloading or doing mechanical work” was being done “in the course of [the trucker’s] employment. (MCL 500.3106(2)(a))
If neither of those facts exists, such as if the trucker is self-employed or an independent contractor, then the normal No Fault “parked vehicle” rules would apply, so that the trucker would likely be eligible for No Fault insurance benefits so long as, at the time of his or her injury, he or she was in the “process” of “loading or unloading” property onto or off of the trucker’s “parked vehicle.” (See MCL 500.3106(1)(b))
To learn more about when a trucker is an “employee” for Workers Compensation purposes and when a trucker is eligible to receive No Fault benefits, please check out Michigan Auto Law’s blog posts:
- When is an injured worker disqualified from receiving No Fault benefits after a car crash?
- Who pays for a truck driver’s No Fault insurance benefits?
- Insurer for trucking company that leased a self-employed trucker’s rig must pay Michigan No-Fault insurance benefits
The ‘another vehicle’ exception and how No Fault insurance will pay an injured trucker
Under Michigan’s No Fault Law, there is an exception to the general rule (stated above) trucker employees who are injured while, in the course of their employment, loading or unloading their parked truck and/or doing mechanical work on their parked rig.
The exception is called the “another vehicle” exception and it provides:
If a trucker’s injuries, which were sustained while loading, unloading or doing mechanical work on a parked truck, were caused by “the use or operation of another vehicle,” then the trucker is eligible to receive No Fault insurance benefits, rather than workers compensation benefits.
Although the No Fault statute doesn’t specify, the “use or operation of another vehicle” could interpreted to include situations such as:
- Another vehicle crashing into the trucker.
- Another vehicle crashing into the items or property that’s being loaded or unloaded.
Another vehicle crashing into the parked truck that is being loaded to, unloaded from and/or on which mechanical work is being done.