Truck drivers can be classified as employees or independent contractors by a trucking company. This classification essentially defines the relationship between the company and the driver, governing factors like:
- Who is required to cover certain operating costs
- Whether benefits are provided to drivers
- Whether drivers are eligible for overtime pay
- Who may be liable if a truck accident happens
- Control over the work.
Far too often, trucking companies will intentionally misclassify drivers in an effort to try to limit their costs and liability while maximizing their profits. Driver misclassification is illegal.
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Top 3 Reasons Why Trucking Companies Misclassify Drivers
Misclassification occurs when a trucking company wrongly classifies drivers as independent contractors (or owner operators) instead of employees. Companies may try to rationalize this misclassification to drivers by emphasizing the flexibility that comes with being an independent contractor. “Be your own boss” is commonly the incentive companies use to get drivers to sign on as independent contractors.
The trucking company does gain some distinct benefits from having drivers as independent contractors. These primarily include:
- Putting insurance & other costs on drivers – When drivers are independent contractors, they are responsible for covering their own insurance costs. They will also have to pay for fuel, vehicle maintenance, road tolls, and other expenses associated with operating the truck. This effectively puts the burden of the operating costs on drivers, rather than the trucking company.
- Taking overtime pay off the table – While employees can be eligible to earn overtime pay, independent contractors are not. This means that trucking companies can limit their labor costs via misclassification.
- Avoiding liability for truck accidents – When truck drivers are involved in wrecks, trucking companies can shield themselves from liability if their drivers are independent contractors. This means that a company positions itself to be off the hook for accidents caused by independent contractors with incredulous claims such as the truck driver controlled the means and manner of the work performed.
Determining when a trucking company has misclassified a driver can be important to preserving the value of a claim and holding the company accountable when its drivers cause truck accidents.
Truck Driver Misclassification & Liability for Truck Accidents: More Important Information
- Not all independent contractors are misclassified – There are specific standards for determining when driver misclassification has occurred. The level of control the company has (or relinquishes) over how drivers perform their job duties will determine whether drivers have been misclassified as independent contractors.
- Identifying driver misclassification is key to maximizing truck accident victims’ financial recoveries – The independent contractor defense is commonly used by trucking companies to avoid liability. This is because it allows companies to assert that a driver is not their employee and that the company is consequently not responsible for the driver’s negligent actions. Knowing how to fight this defense and prove that drivers have been misclassified as independent contractors can force a trucking company to accept liability when their drivers cause accidents.
A lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm can explain whether a trucking company and other parties are liable for your wreck.
Get Experienced Help Recovering from a Truck Wreck: Contact a Houston Truck Accident Attorney at the Amaro Law Firm
After a truck accident, getting answers about your rights and potential claim can be important to taking the right steps towards financial recovery. An experienced Houston truck accident attorney at the Amaro Law Firm is ready to provide you with these answers and the representation necessary to maximize your recovery.
To find out more about your legal options after a truck wreck, call (877) 892-2797 or email us. We offer free consultations to help victims get on the path to justice and recovery.
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