Grazian and Volpe can’t write enough about trucking companies and shippers disregarding or attempting to circumvent state and federal laws and regulations aimed at preventing truck accidents. We simply can’t avoid advocating for workers’ injured on the job who are having difficulty with their workers’ compensation claims certainly not helped by the State of Illinois and its business lobby friends.
When news of a recent settlement crossed my desk, we gave a cheer for a rare win for the good guys. A case where the issue of the abuse of the “independent contractor” appellation and trucking companies has married the issue of companies avoiding the payment for workers’ compensation benefits.
The case involved the propriety of a trucking company classifying a group of drivers as “independent contractors”. This misclassification allowed the trucking company to be relieved of the obligation to reimburse the drivers for any and all employment claims. The trucking company thus avoided allowing required meal and rest breaks, keeping itemized wage statements and paying for workers’ compensation insurance. The drivers claimed that they were employees as the trucking company controlled the services performed by the drivers as to what was to be performed and the manner in which it was performed. The drivers prevailed and the company was compelled to create a large settlement fund to guaranty any workers’ claims.
Not only does this settlement set an an example for employers attempting to avoid paying for workers’ compensation insurance benefits but also those companies that improperly label workers as “independent contractors” but; it also serves to prevent trucking companies and shippers from avoiding the liabilities of negligent, impaired or fatigued drivers who ignore safety laws and regulations by claiming that they have no responsibility for the independent contractors they retain (see September 21, 2011 “Is the Shipper Liable?”)
The Chicago truck accident and Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers at Grazian and Volpe are always happy to report verdict, settlements and laws that benefit our clientele who have been injured at work or in life. In over 25 years of workers, injury and accident practice we have never seen a case which so beautifully combines the pursuit of driver safety and the prevention of truck accidents with the assurance of benefits to workers. Our hats off to these brave truck drivers for pursuing their rights to the benefit of workers and highway safety!