Owner Operator Best Practices: Problems with Injured Owner Operators
December 27, 2017
Author: Ben Droessler
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 1 in every 20 truck drivers had a work related injury in 20161. Employers and employees rely on workers compensation to pay for medical, disability and fatality benefits. But what happens when an Owner Operator gets hurt?
States are responsible for determining if Owner Operators qualify for workers compensation benefits from their trucking company (you). Determining what state law applies can be tricky because of the interstate nature of the trucking business. For example, you are an Iowa based company, with an Owner Operator living in Illinois, who is hurt in North Carolina. What state applies? A good attorney will file a work comp claim against you in the worst possible jurisdiction. Leaving you with expensive legal battles, costly time away from your business, and overpaying workers compensation premiums.
What can you do to prevent costly work comp battles with Owner Operators?
- Utilize a strong Owner Operator contract reinforcing independent contractor status. Invest in an attorney well versed in drafting and defending Owner Operator contracts. Plaintiff attorneys salivate over poorly written agreements but may pass a case up if they find a solid contract.
- Require Owner Operators carry work injury insurance. Occupational Accident is an affordable alternative to workers compensation.
- Buy Contingent Workers Compensation (Liability). These policies range from free to $5,000 per year and pay defense, settlement and work-comp awards for Owner Operators.
Take action! A portion of Cottingham & Butler’s Owner Operator Scorecard evaluates your specific workers compensation risk with Owner Operators. It’s free, confidential and results are instantly emailed to you.
Contact Ben Droessler with Cottingham & Butler’s Contractor Services Team.
1Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistic, 2016
Ben Droessler CIC
Vice President, Independent Contractor Risk