Arkansas Trucking Association

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ACT 1166: Four Years In

By Greg Jones, Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP

Prior to 2013, an annoying problem haunted the Arkansas trucking industry. While many motor carriers hired independent contractors (ICs) to haul their loads, many of those ICs carried no workers’ compensation insurance. That worked fine … until the ICs (or the IC’s drivers) suffered serious work-related injuries. With no apparent workers’ compensation coverage, where could the injured drivers turn?

Some drivers brazenly claimed that they should fall under the motor carrier’s coverage. And that ploy worked. Motor carriers found themselves paying benefits to supposedly independent contractors, even though those ICs had contributed nothing towards paying for the carriers’ premiums.

It was a 21st century adaptation of Little Red Hen…but with a twisted ending.

That changed in 2013 with the General Assembly’s passage of Act No. 1166. Now codified at Ark. Code Ann. §11-9-502, the Act provides a method for ICs to join onto a motor carrier’s existing workers’ compensation policy: (a) if they were under exclusive contract to the motor carrier; (b) if they made a written election to secure such coverage; and (c) if they paid the related premiums.

Thus, to the ICs, the Act gives them a valuable source for insurance. To the carriers, it closes the exposure for “benefits freeloading.”  And yet the Act achieves both goals while also verifying that, notwithstanding the extension of workers’ compensation insurance, the ICs indeed are considered independent contractors rather than de facto employees of the carrier.

So where are we today?  Surprisingly few problems have emerged with implementation of this Act. Indeed, as of this article’s publication, it appears that the Act’s interpretation has not yet triggered a single Workers’ Compensation opinion, much less any reported appellate decision.

Yet that relative calm has not meant that no questions have arisen.

For example, one question is whether a motor carrier must accept the IC’s election for coverage. The answer seems to be “yes.”  So long as the IC drives exclusively for the motor carrier and pays the requisite premiums, the carrier (or its workers’ compensation insurer) may not decline the IC’s election. In a related vein, prudence dictates that carriers not only keep records of the ICs’ elections, but also memorialize the fact that such coverage has been offered to those ICs who are under exclusive contract with them.

If your company wishes to view or use an election form devised by the Arkansas Trucking Association, please see

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You are here: Home News In Brief ACT 1166: Four Years In