While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all segments of the U.S. economy, among those struggling the most right now are so-called “essential workers.” This is particularly true of commercial truck drivers, who have to keep up their delivery schedules so grocery stores stay stocked, gas stations have fuel, pharmacies can fill prescriptions, and so on.
In addition to the usual challenges that come with their jobs, truckers are facing new obstacles due to the pandemic, making an already difficult job that much harder.
If you’re a trucker and you’ve contracted COVID-19 or you’ve been injured because of new job restrictions put in place because of the pandemic, make sure to speak to an attorney to learn more about your possible legal options.
Call Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward today to learn more.
COVID-19 Impact on Truckers
One major issue facing truckers right now as they make their way across the country is their ability to get adequate rest, food, and bathroom access on the road. Many places where truckers might have stopped for a break before the pandemic – restaurants, gas stations and truck stops, public rest areas, etc. – are currently closed or have limited services. This forces truckers to stay in their trucks without many options for going to the bathroom or getting a hot meal.
Kenneth Rantz, the owner of Rantz Trucking in Maryland, told one local news organization that “[Truckers] have to be able to park the truck in a safe haven parking place and a lot of those have been closed by governors. And places that we are allowed to park there’s no bathroom facilities or restaurants or carry out facilities.”
Rantz added that staff shortages due to the pandemic are also affecting shipping schedules, as it’s taking longer to load and unload deliveries.
Tips for Drivers While on the Road During the Pandemic
If you’re a commercial truck driver and you’re still making deliveries, it’s important to take whatever precautions you can to avoid contracting COVID-19 and keep yourself safe in other ways.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- While many restaurants, truck stops, and other places where you might have stopped to rest are closed, others area still open in a limited capacity and are trying to help truckers however they can. Many restaurants that are open have begun offering discounts and other deals to truckers. For a list of participating restaurants and locations, check out the website for the International Franchise Association.
- Stay in your vehicle as much as possible when your delivery is being loaded or unloaded. Keeping your windows up may also help.
- Minimize your chance of contracting COVID-19 by not touching fuel pumps with your bare hands, going with electronic forms instead of paper receipts whenever possible, and touching things like pencils, pens, ATM keypads, and so on as little as possible.
- Make sure to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask or other face covering whenever you’re interacting with people. If you’re looking for the latest information on disease prevention or other research related to the pandemic, be sure to use trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Wash your hands regularly to decrease your chance to contracting the virus. If you buy hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- If you need financial assistance, the federal government and other agencies have set up several programs to help businesses who are struggling right now. Two programs that might help are the federal Paycheck Protection Program and the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Assistance Program.
Injured While Driving a Truck During the Pandemic
The pandemic has all sectors of our society scrambling to adjust, including the legal system. Right now, there are few hard facts about law as it relates to truck drivers who contract COVID-19. As is the case with legal coverage generally, the rules will vary from state to state, and the situation could change based on the actions of state and federal agencies.
Depending on where you live and do drive, you may be able to file what’s known as an occupational disease claim if you contract COVID-19 while you’re on the job. The rules on occupational disease claims are very different depending on where you file the claim. Some states have laws regulating who can file such claims and under what circumstances, while others have left it up to the courts to decide which claims are valid.
You may have to show some kind of proof demonstrating that your job led you to contract COVID-19; again, the rules vary in different areas. The existing case law on occupational disease claims mostly concerns healthcare workers, but that could easily change in the near future, depending on what the courts or different governments do.
Why Should You Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
Insurance exists to protect truck drivers from injuries and illnesses they sustain on the job, and that should include COVID-19. This virus can have devastating, long-term impacts on your health. You could be covered if you contracted COVID-19 because you were traveling through a “hot spot” for your work and can demonstrate that your job put you at a high risk of contracting the disease.
Contracting the virus may mean missing weeks of work, even if you don’t have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you could be facing a long illness and thousands of dollars in medical bills.
To pursue the compensation you’re entitled to, you want an experienced, aggressive truck accident attorney by your side. The team at Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward is committed to helping all truckers – including those who’ve been impacted by COVID-19 – seek the benefits they need and deserve.
To find out more about how we can help you, call our office today or reach out to us online.