When it comes to Illinois workers’ compensation law, one thing we notice is that when you see a weird defense to cases going on, if you see it one case, you’ll see it on a lot of others. Essentially, insurance companies throw strategies against the wall and hope that it sticks.
There is one defense that isn’t actually new, but it’s being used in a slimy way to hurt truck drivers. What happens is a trucking company will go to get workers’ compensation insurance. They balk at the price and then get advised to make all of their drivers independent contractors. They purchase a cheaper work comp insurance policy and are strongly encouraged to make their drivers buy an occupational accident disability policy.
These policies basically tell the truck drivers that if you get hurt at work, you can’t claim work comp, but instead have to apply for these lesser benefits. Most drivers think they are getting a work comp policy, but really aren’t. This is wrong and illegal for so many reasons. Let’s count the ways:
- You can’t call a driver an independent contractor when you have control over them. If they are employees then they are employees.
- You can’t make an employee pay for their own workers comp coverage.
- You can’t make an employee waive their rights to work comp benefits in Illinois.
- You can’t force a worker to use a policy that doesn’t pay as much as work comp laws do nor one that limits their medical care.
So the bad news is that many trucking companies are confusing their drivers, many of whom aren’t native English speakers, with these sham policies. I can think of at least ten drivers who we’ve spoken to in recent months who have been harmed as a result.
The good news is that the law is on the side of these workers. They can still file for workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois which provide some of the best worker protections around. This includes the right to choose your own doctor, 100% payment for medical bills and compensation for your time off of work.
Regrettably, trucking companies an insurance companies will keep doing this stuff until it bites them in the butt enough. Fighting these insurance company scams is like a game of whack a mole. You knock one down and then another one pops up in its place. This one though has gone on for a while because trucking companies open and close and then re-open under a different name all of the time.
The bottom line is that if you are an injured truck driver with a connection to Illinois, we can likely help. Call us for free any time at 312-346-5578 to see if you have a case.