Our modern world relies on the efficient and safe transportation of goods and messages. Businesses need to receive and send products and send private information through couriers in order to exist, and individuals rely on those businesses to conduct their lives. With so much riding on their efforts, it isn’t a wonder that Minnesota law makes special efforts to protect truckers and couriers under workers’ compensation law. One of the ways that they do this is by putting strict, specific limitations on which truckers and couriers can be called independent contractors.
Independent Contractor VS Employee
The rules around who is an independent contractor and who is an employee are nebulous. The guidelines that the Department of Labor use state that employees have a different amount of financial and behavioral control in their work than independent contractors. An employee’s relationship is more permanent and exclusive with an employer, too.
A big part of being an employee is that they receive benefits, one of which is that employers have to provide workers’ compensation insurance for employees. An employer can opt out of insuring an independent contractor. If the employer offers to insure the independent contractor, they can only charge for the coverage if the contractor puts in writing that he or she wants to be covered and gets an endorsement describing the terms of the coverage.
In order to save on insurance, some companies try to claim people who are actually employees are independent contractors, and the vague guidelines regarding these positions help them.
Trucking and messenger/courier industries, however, have different guidelines.
The Factors That Make A Trucker Or A Courier An Independent Contractor
The Department of Labor and the Statute 176.043 of Minnesota say that an “operator of a car, van, truck, tractor, or truck-tractor that is licensed and registered” to the government is an employee unless all 7 of these factors are met. You are an independent contractor if, and only if:
1. You own or lease the equipment you use.
2. You are responsible for maintaining the equipment.
3. You pay for fuel, repairs, supplies, vehicle insurance, personal expenses and other operating expenses. You can get reimbursed for the carrier’s fuel surcharge and incidental costs if you are an independent contractor, but if you are paying for more things than tolls or lumper fees, you’re an independent contractor.
4. You supply the necessary personal services to operate the equipment.
5. You are not paid by the hour. A contractor bases their fees on factors related to the work performed, such as a schedule of rates, not time spent.
6. Within the regulations and specifications of a shipper, you get a great amount of say in manner and means of performing your job.
7. You entered a written contract that states specifically that you are an independent contractor.
If any of these factors are missing, your boss is legally obligated to provide you with workers’ compensation insurance.
Other Special Considerations For Truckers and Couriers
So you are probably an employee, and if you are injured on the job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation. This is good because truck drivers have a high rate of injury from lifting heavy items, accidents and equipment malfunctions.
Of course, as someone who drives for a living, you might cross state borders in order to perform your job. If you are injured on the job while in another state, you can still get compensation. If you were hired in Minnesota, receive payment from a trucking company that is based in Minnesota, and given orders from an office in Minnesota, Minnesota rules apply to you and your boss.
You don’t have to be the one driving, either. If you are on the job, you should receive compensation. Your employer pays as much for when you throw your back out lifting something on to the truck as when you get rear-ended in traffic.
Truckers and couriers deserve all the help they can get when they are injured, and we at Meshbesher Law Firm have experience with all the intricacies of their claims. Please contact us if you have been injured and see what we can do for you.