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This brief guide to 2018 North Carolina workers’ compensation laws will give you a simple overview of some important information that you should know before filing a claim for trucking injury benefits. Topics covered in this workers’ compensation guide for truckers include:

  • Who is covered by workers’ compensation laws
  • What types of injuries make you eligible for benefits
  • The maximum rate of benefits for truckers
  • How long workers’ compensation benefits last

For more information about filing a workers’ compensation claim, appealing a claim that was denied, or appealing the suspension or termination of benefits, call the Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys of the Ramsay Law Firm at (704) 376-1616. We can provide you with a free consultation to help you understand whether you have a claim.

Who Qualifies for Benefits?

Truck drivers in North Carolina may be covered by workers’ compensation laws regardless of whether they are classified as employees or independent contractors. When a trucker is injured on the job, whether in an accident or assault, workers’ compensation benefits can provide partial wage replacement while helping to pay for medical bills and injury treatment. If a trucker is killed while performing his or her job, the victim’s surviving dependents, such as surviving children, may receive death benefits to help pay for funeral costs and other losses.

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What Injuries Are Covered?

A broad array of injuries may entitle you to workers’ compensation benefits, ranging from relatively minor injuries that will heal in a matter of months, to catastrophic injuries that cause severe and permanent disability. The benefits available depend partially on the nature and severity of your injury, as the section below on 2018 rates explains in further detail.

Whether an injury occurs during loading and unloading, or while you are in an accident on the road, coverage may be available. Common examples of injuries in the trucking industry include:

  • Amputation of a hand, foot, arm, or leg
  • Back injuries and damage to the spinal cord
  • Bone fractures
  • Cuts, lacerations, and bleeding
  • Head and brain injuries, such as concussions
  • Injuries caused by slip and fall accidents
  • Injuries caused by violent assault
  • Joint injuries to the hips, knees, elbows, shoulders, wrists, or ankles
  • Loss of a finger, thumb, or toe
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash neck injuries

What is the 2018 Workers’ Compensation Rate for Truckers?

The truck driver’s pre-injury rate of pay is the crucial factor in determining the rate of workers’ compensation benefits. Wage loss benefits are calculated to be about 66.66% of the pre-accident rate, with a 2018 maximum weekly limit of $992, an increase of $14 from the $978 weekly limit in 2017. This figure will be adjusted for inflation in 2019.

To use a hypothetical example, if you were earning a $40,000 per year salary before you were injured, the 66.66% calculation rate would give you a maximum award of $26,400 per year. Following the same example, if you were disabled for six months, you could receive up to $13,200 for lost wages during that period.

The calculation of benefits also depends partially on the injury itself. Generally speaking, more severe injuries will result in higher awards, as they tend to cause higher medical expenses with a longer recovery period and a greater reduction in earning capacity. In most cases, compensation for permanent injuries is limited to a maximum of 500 weeks, or approximately 9.5 years. Under Section 97-31, Article 1 of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act sets forth rates and periods of compensation for various permanent injuries, such as amputation injuries, which include the following:

  • Loss of a Thumb
    • Rate – 66.66% of average weekly wages
    • Duration – 75 weeks (1.4 years)
  • Loss of Index Finger
    • Rate – 66.66% of average weekly wages
    • Duration – 45 weeks (10.3 months)
  • Loss of Middle Finger
    • Rate – 66.66% of average weekly wages
    • Duration – 40 weeks (9.2 months)
  • Loss of a Hand
    • Rate – 66.66% of average weekly wages
    • Duration – 200 weeks (3.8 years)
  • Loss of an Arm
    • Rate – 66.66% of average weekly wages
    • Duration – 240 weeks (4.6 years)
  • Loss of a Big Toe
    • Rate – 66.66% of average weekly wages
    • Duration – 35 weeks (8.1 months)
  • Loss of a Foot
    • Rate – 66.66% of average weekly wages
    • Duration – 144 weeks (2.8 years)
  • Loss of a Leg
    • Rate – 66.66% of average weekly wages
    • Duration – 200 weeks (3.8 years)
  • Loss of an Eye
    • Rate – 66.66% of average weekly wages
    • Duration – 120 weeks (2.3 years)

How Long Do Benefits Last?

Benefits are generally available until you return to work or for up to 500 weeks, which is approximately nine and a half years. If you return to work, your benefits may be reduced or terminated, depending on how much income you earn after recovering from your injury. Benefits are meant to replace lost wages, so if your wages are restored or increased after you finish recovering, workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages will stop.

However, your employer may not cut off your benefits spontaneously. Employers are required to gain approval before changing your benefit status, so if your benefits are suddenly terminated or suspended without warning, you should notify a workers’ compensation attorney immediately.

Charlotte, NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers for Truck Drivers

If you suffered an on-the-job injury in the trucking industry, you may be entitled to weekly benefits to help replace lost earnings, pay for your medical care, and provide a stronger security net during your recovery period. The workers’ comp lawyers of the Ramsay Law Firm have more than 20 years of legal experience helping commercial truck drivers obtain benefits for job-related injuries and accidents, including death benefits for surviving family members in fatal accident claims.

Our founding attorney, Martha Ramsay, is a Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist, so you can feel confident your claim will be handled with diligence, care, and efficiency. At the Ramsay Law Firm, our goal is to obtain the maximum compensation possible while making sure that your legal rights as an employee or independent contractor are not violated. To learn more about workers’ compensation benefits for truckers in North Carolina, call the Ramsay Law Firm at (704) 376-1616 for a free consultation today.

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