Hidden costs of truck accidents

Reasons why truck accident victims need more protection and the cost of doing nothing.

Attorney Steven Gursten published an interesting article outlining several reasons truck liability insurance should be raised. Mr. Gursten is an attorney at Michigan Auto Law, founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable and a thought leader on auto insurance issues.

Mr. Gursten makes the argument that minimum liability insurance for commercial motor carriers must be raised. It was set 30 years ago and has not been adjusted for inflation. Many people are now being under-compensated after a serious truck accident. If truck insurance policy limits are not raised, liability costs will fall on taxpayers. Potential fixes have been blocked by politicians bowing to the wishes of special interests.

This article made us think about the trucking industry and similar problems with workers compensation insurance. It seems like truck drivers get less benefits every day. This ends up shifting the costs of serious work accidents to other payers.

Employee Misclassification

Trucking companies are some of the worst offenders when it comes to employee misclassification. Drivers are forced to sign independent contractor agreements and to purchase disability plans that are inadequate.

By deliberately misclassifying employees as independent contractors, trucking companies avoid having to pay required workers compensation benefits. This has a real human cost when truck drivers cannot pay medical bills or support their families.

Truck drivers who are hurt on-the-job don’t simply go away because there is no workers compensation insurance. Private health insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare must pick-up the tab. This ends up increasing taxes and insurance for everyone.

The workers compensation system also relies upon an honest reporting of employees to set premium rates. Gaming the system puts other trucking companies at a financial disadvantage. We need to support businesses that play by the rules.

New Rules Started January 1, 2013

Michigan enacted new rules regarding independent contractors starting on January 1, 2013. Whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor is to be resolved using a 20-factor test announced by the IRS. This legislation attempts to clear up several confusing court decisions.

Just three months after this legislation was passed, attempts were made to carve out an exception for trucking companies. Senate Bill 1012 (2012) would have exempted certain trucking companies from having to provide workers compensation coverage. We are happy to report that Senate Bill 1012 (2012) never made it out of committee. However, it should serve as a warning about special interest groups and their influence on politics.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

News Rules Regarding Independent Contractors

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Bill Ward’s Brickpile.

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