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You sign up with a trucking company to become one of their drivers. You may travel from your home in North Carolina to another state to finish your application. Or you live outside of North Carolina. You probably take tests for the company in that other state, and they give you a lot of paperwork to sign. This is why you need an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney.

One paper in the pile is for occupational accident insurance (OAI). You sign it and everything else they give you, and you have a job. You don’t think any more about it, other than the amount coming out of your paycheck to pay for it. Then you have an on-the-job injury somewhere in North Carolina. 

You need medical treatment. You use the card that the occupational accident company sent you. You want to get back to work but you can’t drive yet. So you call and start a claim. Maybe you get a check for something like $500.

But what about workers’ comp? Why are you not getting workers’ comp benefits, and does it matter? The answer is yes. It can make the difference between paying your bills and not paying your bills.

Occupational Accident Insurance is not workers’ comp! Trucking companies choose OAI over workers’ comp because it is cheaper. Some drivers are forced to pay for their own policies. OAI policies differ, but some policies provide:

  • Two years of payments for time out of work
  • Maximum benefits of something like $500
  • Limited medical coverage
  • All benefits stop if you apply for workers’ comp

In North Carolina, you must have workers’ compensation coverage if you drive for a trucking company and don’t have your own DOT license. It is the law. Companies can be fined for not carrying workers’ comp and forced to pay benefits by the North Carolina Industrial Commission

Workers’ compensation policies pay for more of an injured worker’s needs than OAI.  And workers’ comp coverage is the same for every covered employee. Eligible workers can get:

  • 500 weeks of compensation, or more in limited cases
  • Maximum benefits of up to $992 in 2018
  • Medical benefits that are not limited by the insurer
  • Payments for permanent damage to body parts
  • Wage loss payments

If your trucking company doesn’t have workers’ comp and you have to drive in North Carolina, you can report them.   But even if they don’t have workers’ compensation, you can still force the company to pay by filing a claim and filing for a hearing.

If you have questions about workers’ compensation and trucking injuries, call Valerie Johnson at Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC at (919) 240-4054.  We are here to help.

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