Winter has returned. This weekend’s snowstorm brought several inches of snow to the St. Joseph area, and nearly a foot in other parts of the region. The problems that come with clearing so much snow raise an important question: If a snowplow driver gets hurt, can they recover workers’ compensation? Not only do car accidents happen with snowplows, but the physically demanding aspects of plowing snow can hurt even the most careful and athletic driver on the roads.
The answer depends largely on whether the driver is an independent contractor or a salaried worker.
Salaried Snowplow Drivers Often Covered by Workers’ Compensation
A considerable portion of the snowplow drivers in St. Joseph and Kansas City work for the local or state governments. Usually salaried workers, these drivers will often be covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. As a result, if these workers get hurt in a crash or in the scope of their role as snowplow drivers, they should report an injury to their supervisor promptly and go through the claims process.
Independent Contractors Less Likely to be Covered
Unfortunately, independent contractors and individual people who plow snow as a side job are far less likely to be covered by workers’ compensation, even if they contract with local government agencies. This is particularly true as workers' compensation laws are strictly construed against a hurt worker, as shown by a recent case where a driver was hurt in a car crash, but was denied coverage because a panel refused to recognize that the employer's premises included the roadway.
Of course, if you work with a company that is providing snowplowing services—whether to the government to clear the streets or to private businesses to clear their parking lots or to homeowners to plow their driveways—that company may have its own workers’ compensation insurance that you can count on. Unfortunately, these companies are not very prevalent in Missouri, and rarely have the five or more employees that make them legally obligated to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Most of the people who plow snow and who do not work for the government, though, are in it as a side job for some extra cash. These plow drivers, unless they are carrying their own workers’ compensation insurance, will have to look elsewhere if they get hurt while on the job.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph
Very few people consider the repercussions of what could happen if things go wrong. Unfortunately, there are countless ways for something to go wrong, even when it is just a simple thing like plowing your neighbor’s snow for some extra money. Mistakes can happen, and if you get hurt while driving your snowplow, it can make life difficult.
Talking to a workers’ compensation attorney or a personal injury lawyer is not just important to do after an accident has happened: It can also be extremely helpful to do before embarking on a new venture, like plowing snow as a side gig. Personal injury lawyers have seen all of the ways that ventures like these can go bad, and can help you plan accordingly.