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How Independent Truck Drivers Can Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits

Posted on in BGL Law
How Independent Contractors Can Receive Workers' Compensation BenefitsAn independent contractor and a business agree on a work contract because there are advantages for both sides. One advantage for the business is that it is likely not liable if the contractor is injured while working. Businesses will deny workers' compensation claims by independent contractors because contractors are not protected employees. However, some Illinois courts have allowed truck drivers working as independent contractors to receive workers' compensation benefits. Judges will scrutinize a driver's work arrangement with the business to determine whether he or she is effectively an employee.

Truck Owner-Operators

Truck owner-operators use their own trucks to transport freight for a business or organization. A business may hire a truck owner-operator as an employee or contract one as an independent driver. Truck owner-operators are generally considered independent contractors if they:

  • Signed an agreement identifying themselves as an independent contractor;
  • Pay for equipment maintenance and repair;
  • Determine their own schedules and operating procedures;
  • Can hire their own employees;
  • Receive payment for completed transports and not based on time spent working; and
  • Are free to end the work contract at any time.

Court Decisions

A business may believe that it can protect itself from work injury liability by referring to a truck driver as an independent contractor in the work agreement. A 2007 Illinois Supreme Court decision stated that a driver identified as an independent contractor can be eligible for workers' compensation if the driver's working relationship is similar to that of an employee. Illinois courts may consider how much control the business has over the driver, such as if:

  • The business owns any truck accessories, including trailers and tankers;
  • The driver and business share the vehicle maintenance costs;
  • The business must approve the driver's hiring and operating decisions;
  • The business regularly suggests routes that the driver should take;
  • The driver is not allowed to work for another business while under contract;
  • The business requires regular reviews of the driver; or
  • The driver must keep a log book for the business.

Receiving Benefits

The supreme court decision allowed one independent truck driver to receive workers' compensation benefits, but did not definitively answer how future cases will be decided. The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission and lower courts can use their own discretion in determining whether a contractor should be treated as an employee.

If you are an independent truck driver who has been injured on the job, you may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits. A McHenry County workers' compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC can investigate your case to determine if you are entitled to compensation.



Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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