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When Can Truckers Hurt by Their Co-Driver Sue?

If you were injured in a truck accident by your co-driver, Michael Grossman explain that the doesn't always work the way you think it does.

In long-haul trucking, it is quite common for there to be two drivers for a single truck. This minimizes a truck's down time on longer, transcontinental trips and allows loads to be delivered quicker than if it was a truck driven by a single driver. Of course, when an accident happens when there is a driver and a co-driver, instead of two accident victims there are one. It would be easy to assume that since both truck drivers are in a truck, they would be treated the same way under the law in the event that they were injured. However, given recent clarifications of federal regulation as to what constitutes an employee on the clock, a driver and co-driver may fall under different areas of the law.

The attorneys at Texas-based Grossman Law Offices will guide you through what you need to know if you have been injured by your co-driver in an accident.

Questions answered on this page:

  • Why is a co-driver treated differently than the driver behind the wheel in an accident?
  • Are injured co-driver's eligible for workers compensation?
  • What legal remedies are available to co-drivers injured in a truck accident?
  • Why is an experienced truck accident attorney necessary to pursue your injury claims?

You are not always considered an employee when you are injured in a truck accident.

If you are a truck driver relaxing or sleeping in the passenger seat, while your partner is behind the wheel and then an accident occurs, you might assume that any injuries you sustain will be covered by your employer's workers' compensation plan. However, off-the-clock truckers who happen to be in a company truck are, legally speaking, no different than hitchhikers or friends who are along for the ride. In other words, if you're not on the clock but are in the truck and you're injured, you have the same right to sue the employer as a guest riding along in the passenger seat would.

But here's where things get tricky. Even though you are not eligible for workers' comp benefits, most employers under these circumstances will try to push you toward a workers' comp claim. Sometimes they even roll out the red carpet and assist you in filing the claim. But why? Well, because they don't want you to realize that you can probably sue them. If you file a workers' comp claim, the worst that happens to the employer is that their comp premiums may get a little more expensive. But if you sue them, it could cost them a considerable sum of money.

For a more detailed explanation, check out our blog article "Attention Truckers: You're Not On The Clock When You're In The Sleeper Birth.

If the off-duty driver is not covered by workers compensation, how can they recover lost income and pay for medical bills?

If you're an off-duty truck driver, it may seem a bit scary at first to know that your injuries may not be covered by worker's compensation, until you realize that workers compensation guarantees that you will not recover the full amount of lost wages, resulting from an accident.

As someone who is not injured on the job, an off-duty truck driver, injured in an accident has to pursue any damage claims through the trucking company's insurance. While this process is more complex than workers compensation, it also has the added benefit of allowing the driver to recover all, or significantly more damages than the workers compensation system. The downside to this route is that it does take longer and is not generally something that an injured off-duty truck driver can accomplish on his own.

However, with the help of an experienced truck accident attorney an injured off-duty truck driver is more than capable of pursuing litigation against a trucking company's insurance policy, which in the long run would help the driver pay medical bills and recover lost wages to a much greater degree than a workers compensation claim ever would.

In a worst-case scenario for a truck driver, their trucking company will try to have their cake and eat it too, by asserting that the driver was off the clock and not eligible for workers compensation and and denying any liability against their insurance policy. In this case, you got hurt by doing your job, while your employer argues that you weren't really an employee when you got hurt and it wasn't your fault that you got hurt in the first place, so they don't owe you a thing.

You are not out of luck. You need a truck accident lawyer

Regardless of how your employer reacts to your injury, if you are an off-duty driver who was injured in a truck accident, it is necessary to speak with a truck accident attorney so that you are fully aware of your rights under the law. Only an attorney with truck accident experience knows how to gather evidence, establish that you were not actually working at the time of the accident, and aggressively pursue a trucking company to make you whole again.

Your employers and their insurers have attorneys working for them, doesn't it only make sense that you have attorneys of your own? At Grossman Law Offices, Michael Grossman, and his team of experienced truck accident attorneys have been representing those injured in truck accidents, including off-duty truck drivers, for over 25 years, here in Texas, and throughout the nation. In that time we have won literally hundreds of cases on behalf of those who have been injured by trucking company negligence.

If you have questions or would like Grossman Law Offices to review your case, call (855) 326-0000 for a free consultation. All inquiries are kept confidential.

If you are a trucker who was injured in an accident, you may also be interested in these related articles.

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