Unless truck has just become ‘disabled’ or trucker is struck by ‘another vehicle,’ workers comp benefits will apply
Last week, we talked about whether a truck driver is eligible for No Fault benefits after being injured while loading, unloading or doing mechanical work on his parked truck.
Today I’d like to analyze how the law applies to a trucker who is injured while entering or exiting his parked big-rig: Does the injured truck driver turn to workers comp, or to No Fault for payment of insurance benefits?
I apologize for the legalese if I sound too much like a lawyer here (I try to write like a normal person and not a lawyer whenever possible), but it’s important to consider the general legal rule and then, I can explain the legal exceptions.
Here are the important legal terms to focus on, especially when both workers comp and No Fault are point the finger at each other and the trucker needs to know who to turn to for wage loss and medical bills:
- Entering into or alighting from a parked truck immediately after it became “disabled”; and,
- The “another vehicle” exception.
Entering into or alighting from the commercial truck
Generally speaking, if a trucker is injured while “[e]ntering into or alighting from” 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:
- 1. The trucker is an “employee”; 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 benefits so long as the trucker’s “injury was sustained … while entering into, or alighting from the [parked] vehicle.” (See MCL 500.3106(1)(c))
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
Entering into or alighting immediately after parked truck became ‘disabled’
Under Michigan’s No Fault Law, one of the exceptions to the general rule above (i.e., Workers Comp, not No Fault, benefits for a trucker-employee injured while entering or exiting a parked truck) involves a truck that has been “disabled.”
Specifically, the exception provides:
If a trucker’s injuries, which were sustained while “entering into or alighting from” his or her parked truck, were “sustained while entering into or alighting from the [parked] vehicle immediately after the vehicle became disabled,” then the trucker is eligible to receive No Fault benefits, rather than Workers Compensation benefits.
The ‘another vehicle’ exception for commercial motor vehicles
The second exception to the general rule above is called the “another vehicle” exception and it provides for commercial motor vehicles:
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 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.