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Incorporate Trucking Business
Trucking Owner Operators:
By Jennifer Reuting, author of Limited Liability Companies for Dummies™
If Your Life Is A Highway, You Can’t Afford To Be Reckless:
Defensive Driving Requires Incorporating or Forming an LLC

So you’ve made the leap, and bought your own 18 wheeler. Day after day you take to the open road, encased in possibly one of the largest investments you’ve ever made. Of course you have the required insurance on your big rig -- you don’t have a choice in the matter. But you do have choices in how you defend the thousands you’ve spent on your personal rig(s), or those of truckers you employ.

You know better than anyone just how many accidents occur on a daily basis. You see them firsthand, and you also know that even the most experienced truckers make mistakes occasionally. While your insurance may cover claims for repairs, if you’re operating as a DBA or a sole proprietorship, you might as well be getting behind the wheel blindfolded, because you’re taking an enormous risk. We know this because we know firsthand just how often lawsuits are filed.

Consider the unfortunate scenario of a major accident. Road conditions were bad, someone pulled in front of you, etc. You did everything you could to avoid the accident, but it happened. If you are operating as a DBA or sole proprietorship, and the other driver decides to sue you, good luck. Your personal assets including your savings, your home, your truck (AKA your livelihood and business) stands to be taken away from you should the driver win the lawsuit.

Even worse, if you’re working as a DBA with partners, you can ultimately be named in a lawsuit based on the actions of your partner! Unfortunately the fact is that if your partner is sued (and it does NOT have to be a lawsuit that is related in any way to motor vehicles) your livelihood is at great risk. If your partner is sued by someone because they slipped on your partner’s porch and injured themselves, or were bitten by a dog, or for back child support, your career may very well be on the line too. Indeed, if you are operating as a DBA with a partner and they are sued, virtually everything you’ve worked for is at stake, including your truck. Is that a risk you’re comfortable with? Especially when this could have been avoided for less than you spend on gas in a week?

Protect Yourself by Forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Incorporating your Trucking Business

By structuring your trucking business as an LLC or a corporation, you are able to defend both your personal and professional livelihood, thereby skirting these potentially life-altering potholes. This is because your business, including your trucks, will become an entity separate from you. Remember what you were taught about not mixing business with pleasure? There’s merit in those words. As a corporation or LLC, your business will have its own Tax Identification Number (TIN), your business will have its own banking accounts, and your business will not be able to be named in a personal lawsuit. Best yet, the process of setting up your trucking business as an LLC or corporation is as easy as navigating I-70 through Nebraska.

As the owner/operator of your truck, or the employer of truckers, you can structure your business in a variety of ways, but the process for doing so is essentially the same whether you are a single member or you have partners. The process goes like this:

1.
File for an LLC or corporation in the state your truck is registered in. (MyLLC.com can help you do this in all 50 states).
2.
Include your truck(s) in the LLC or corporation.
3.
Confirm that the Department of Transportation reflects the new LLC or corporation. Registering and updating your motor carrier information can be done easily online at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration-licensing/registration-USDOT.htm
4.
Set up bank accounts for the business and use the accounts for business purposes only.
5.
Keep on trucking, with the assurance that you are financially safer than ever on the road!

See what we mean? Forming an LLC or corporation isn’t like crossing the continental divide with a full load in January. It’s simple. It’s inexpensive. And the added protection you’ll have is priceless. But it’s imperative that you do so before you get on the road again, to assure that when you’re out there on the open highway, you’re as physically and financially safe as possible.




- Jennifer Reuting

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