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The NTSB is Calling for Tighter Truck Safety to Reduce Trucker Fatalities

Erwin, McCane & Daly | Thursday, March 26, 2015

Large truck accidents have accounted for an increase in fatalities by 17% since 2009. By 2013, the number of truck fatalities rose to 3,964 — indicating the 4th straight year of fatality increases.

While vehicle-related fatalities has been generally on the decline, it’s alarming that trucking fatalities in on the rise. This no doubt has increased the number of trucking accidents for professional truckers.

Common Truck-driver Injuries Include:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) of the neck, back and upper extremities
  • Falls from elevations
  • Falls on the same level
  • Injuries due to being struck by or against objects
  • Vehicle-related injuries

As a trucker, if you suffer an injury on the job, workers’ compensation is the only way to get compensation from your employer for your work injury. This is true so long as you are not an independent contractor. As an employee, you can file a workers’ compensation claim when you are injured as a result of your truck-driving job.

New York State’s Department of Labor announced in 2014 new standards for classifying truck drivers. Being aware that misclassification in the trucking industry is a problem, the new standards help to better clarify who is classified as an employee and not an independent contractor.

The following is sourced from New York State Labor Board.

Defining Who Is An Employee

An employee treated incorrectly as an independent contractor is considered misclassified. Misclassification denies workers rightful benefits such as unemployment and workers' compensation insurance, as well as wage standards and other rights. Misclassified employees can be denied a fair opportunity to form or join unions. Misclassification rates are disproportionately high in the trucking industry.

A legal independent contractor must be reported on a federal income tax form 1099. In addition, they must be defined as a separate business entity or they must be:

  • Free from control and direction in performing the job, both under contract and in fact;
  • Performing services outside of the usual course of business for the employer; and
  • Engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business that is similar to the service they perform.

A legal, separate business entity is a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation or other entity that meets 11 criteria under the new law. It must:

  • Be free from direction or control by the contractor over the means and manner of providing the service. The contractor may only specify the desired result of the work or provide direction required by federal rule or regulation;
  • Not be subject to cancellation or destruction when its work with the contractor ends;
  • Have invested substantial capital in its business entity beyond ordinary tools and equipment;
  • Own or lease the capital goods, gain the profits and bear the losses of the business entity;
  • Make its services available to the general public or others in the business community not a party to the business entity's written contract on a continuing basis;
  • If required by law, provide services reported on a federal income tax form 1099;
  • Perform services for the contractor under a written contract and under the business entity's name. The contract must state that the relationship between the contractor and the business entity is that of independent contractors or separate business entities;
  • Obtain and pay for any required license or permit in the entity's own name or, if allowed by law, pay for the use of the contractor's license or permit;
  • Hire its own employees without contractor approval and pay those employees without reimbursement from the contractor;
  • Not represent the business entity or employees of the business entity as its own employees to the contractor's customers; and
  • Have the right to perform similar services for others on whatever basis and whenever it chooses.

If you’re a truck driver in New York State and you were injured on the job, the best advice is to immediately set up a consultation with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys.