Many individuals who work in the transportation industry say they are lucky since they get to travel for a living. However, being on the road has its fair share of risks, just like any other workplace.
Transportation workers understand that, but the recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlighting their incredibly high risk of suffering work injuries and fatalities might still come as a shock.
Fatal transportation injuries have a significant lead over other incidents
The most recent data the Bureau of Labor Statistics collected is from 2017. Their Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows that:
- Transportation accidents caused 2,077 fatal occupational injuries in 2017;
- The rate of these accidents and injuries was significantly higher than most other events, including falls;
- There were more fatal work injuries in the construction industry, but the transportation industry fell just below that in 2017, with only a difference of 89 fatal injuries.
Why do transportation workers face such risks?
Individuals who drive for a living are in a unique – and dangerous – position. These workers face significant risks for several reasons, including:
- Motor vehicle accidents are already one of the leading causes of death in the United States outside the realm of occupational injuries; and
- Being on the road for hours at a time can naturally increase the chance of a collision.
These factors and the unpredictability of the road can make it a dangerous place to be, much less work.
One challenge: Many transportation workers are independent contractors
From truck drivers to Uber drivers, many employers classify their drivers as independent contractors. Usually, independent contractors do not have the same rights as employees to recover benefits, therefore their loved ones cannot recover compensation. However, in certain situations an employer may consider a worker an independent contractor when, in fact, the law deems the driver as a covered employee.
Some unfair employers might do this on purpose to avoid obtaining workers’ compensation coverage for employees. This is illegal under Maryland law (Maryland Code, Labor and Employment §9-402.1).
This is not always the case, but the worker’s status can still pose a significant risk for drivers and their families if they are in a severe or fatal accident in the course of their work. Individuals who drive for a living, or for a significant part of their job, should review what their employment status is and ensure it is correct.
Transportation workers and families should still seek compensation
Despite the challenge worker classification could pose, it is still a good idea for drivers or their families to understand their options to obtain compensation after a workplace injury or fatal accident. It is beneficial to consult a knowledgeable attorney to help recover the benefits that families deserve after these tragic losses.