The current definition of an employee who is covered by the Missouri Workers' Compensation law is is set forth in Section 287.020 RSMo. The statute specifically states that the following individual is NOT an employee covered by the workers' compensation law: "The word "employee" shall not include an individual who is the owner, as defined in subdivision (42)* of section 301.010, and operator of a motor vehicle which is leased or contracted with a driver to a for-hire motor carrier operating within a commercial zone as defined in section 390.020 or 390.041, or operating under a certificate issued by the Missouri department of transportation or by the United States Department of Transportation, or any of its subagencies." This statutory exclusion applies to many over-the-road truck drivers. Many of these truck drivers think that they are the employees of the company for whom they drive, since that company is the only company for whom they work. However, that is often not the case.
Truck drivers who are injured on the job and who aren't sure whether they would be entitled to workers' compensation benefits need to figure out if the law will consider the driver as an owner/operator, or whether the driver will be considered an employee of the trucking company. These determinations are made by the courts on a case-by-case basis. Here are some of the considerations courts look at in determining whether a person is an owner/operator:
1. Do you lease the truck from the trucking company? Was the lease payment deducted from your weekly pay?
2. Did you sign an independent contractor agreement?
3. Tax forms: Do you receive a Form 1099 at the end of the year rather than a Form W-2?
4. Are you responsible for insuring it?
5. Were you given the option of carrying workers' compensation insurance on yourself versus occupational accident insurance?
6. Can you purchase the truck after a period of time?
7. Does anyone else operate the truck but you?
8. Do you use that truck to work for other employers?
9. Are you responsible for other expenses related to the truck?
If you answered "yes" to several of the questions above, there is a strong possibility you will be considered an owner/operator and not an employee under the Missouri Worker's Compensation law. If you are a truck driver and you aren't sure of your status, give us a call and we will be happy to discuss the matter.