Many trucking companies, a.k.a. carriers, across Colorado and the U.S. hire their truckers as independent contractors to reduce costs. Hiring drivers as independent contractors means the carrier is exempt from paying state or federal taxes, social security and unemployment insurance.
On top of this, they are exempt from many reporting requirements, minimum wage and overtime compensation rules.
Consequently, truckers across Colorado are told by their employers that they are not entitled to full workers' compensation benefits since they're hired as independent contractors. Carriers do not want to incur the cost of workers' compensation insurance due to costs and the fact that on-the-job injuries for truckers are more frequent and severe than many other occupations.
So, employers try to cover their truck drivers through private occupational accident policies that are not closely monitored by the state and generally fall short of the benefits prescribed in Colorado workers' compensation laws.
But for an independent truck driver contractor designation to be valid in Colorado, employers are required to either provide full workers' compensation benefits or a private insurance policy that provides the same level of benefits, according to Colorado statutes and prior case law.
Unfortunately, many Colorado truckers believe that since they are employed as independent contractors, their employers do not have to provide full Colorado workers' compensation coverage. They accept that the limited occupational accident policies they are given are the only on-the-job injury benefits they are entitled to.
First, Colorado statute 40-11.5-102 subsection 5, paragraph A states specifically:
“Any lease or contract executed pursuant to this section shall provide for coverage under workers' compensation or a private insurance policy that provides similar coverage.”
“Similar coverage” is further defined in paragraph B as “…benefits offered by such insurance coverage shall be at least comparable to the benefits offered under the workers' compensation system.”
Several court cases have affirmed the intent of the Colorado General Assembly in regard to this area of Colorado workers' compensation law. When a court interprets a statute, it must determine and follow the intent of the Legislature or Congress by affording the language of the statute its plain and ordinary meaning.
USF Distribution Services, Inc. and Travelers Insurance Company (petitioners) v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office of the State of Colorado and Steven D. Engebretson (respondents) is a workers' compensation case involving a truck driver that has set the legal precedent for all those who have followed it.
In essence USF Distribution and Travelers Insurance were appealing a ruling by the Industrial Claims office that proclaimed the injured trucker was an “employee” rather than an “independent contractor” since the lease agreement between the two did not provide the same level of coverage outlined in the Colorado Workers' Compensation Act.
The independent contractor classification was invalid since the occupational insurance policy the employer provided fell way short of the benefits outlined in Colorado workers' compensation statutes.
Colorado attorney for injured truck drivers R. Mack Babcock is well versed in handling cases of this nature. The Babcock Law Firm has succeeded in obtaining benefits for every truck driver workers' compensation case it has taken on, even when the injured truckers had been told by other Colorado workers' compensation attorneys they had no case.
Discuss the details of your claim with a Colorado Workers' Compensation lawyer at The Babcock Firm today. No matter where you are in the state of Colorado, if your case falls within our practice area and we feel our representation can benefit you, an attorney will conduct an in-depth consultation at no charge. We are here to help you secure a successful outcome. Contact us today and learn more about how representation works.
While the Babcock Law Firm tirelessly works to obtain successful outcomes for its clients, prior positive outcomes are no guarantee of future success. Indicating prior positive results is in no way intended to guarantee future results.