Willard Lockhart, a Charlotte North Carolina truck driver, was hired by Ready Trucking to drive an eighteen-wheeler truck on routes all over the eastern United States. When the transfer truck was blown off of a North Carolina highway, his employer denied that his injuries were their responsibility. Mr. Lockhart was told that he was an independent contractor and not an employee. Mr. Lockhart is an experienced tractor trailer driver but has never owned a truck.
When he was seriously injured in the rollover accident in 2014, there was no real doubt that Willard Lockhart was an employee of defendant Ready Trucking. Mr. Lockhart:
- drove only under Ready Trucking Department of Transportation license
- could not refuse a load
- could not hire helpers
- was required to drive 70 hours per week
- was required to deliver goods as directed by Ready Trucking
- went where he was supposed to go when he was supposed to be there
- could not drive more than 65 mph because the defendant’s truck was fixed with a governor device that wouldn’t let him
But the trucking company denied Mr. Lockhart’s case. They took out deductions from his paycheck but they never purchased any workers’ comp. Instead they gave Mr. Lockhart a type of insurance policy called an occupational accident policy. This kind of policy is not workers’ compensation. It pays limited benefits but then it stops any payments after two years. It is for drivers who actually own their trucks. Ready Trucking made Mr. Lockhart pay for this policy and even sent it to him to pick up in another state because occupational accident policies are not allowed in North Carolina as a substitute for workers’ comp. And when Willard Lockhart filed for workers’ compensation, as the law says he can, the occupational accident adjuster told him that he would not receive another payment.
In other words, Willard Lockhart’s employer, a big interstate trucking company that regularly operates in the state of North Carolina, cheated. Mr. Lockhart suffered as a result. Valerie Johnson went to court with Mr. Lockhart in January 2016 with help from Meghan Deutsch-Blanco. The state of North Carolina joined in the case and asked that Ready Trucking is fined for because it was uninsured and failed to provide its employee with workers’ comp coverage.
With Valerie’s assistance, Mr. Lockhart won his case. But it took nearly two years.
But it is not only Willard Lockhart that suffered as a result of a big interstate trucking company who cheated. Every trucking company that operates in North Carolina that pays for workers comp for its employees, as the law requires them to do, loses when other companies don’t follow the rules. Companies such as United Parcel Service, FedEx, Schneider Trucking, and others who provide workers’ compensation policies for their drivers should not have to compete against companies that cheat.
If you have been injured and your employer hasn’t followed the law, call Valerie Johnson to help. Valerie is board-certified North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys and specialists. If you need help for your North Carolina work injury, we are here for you.