As more and more companies turn to independent contractors to fill up their workforce, there are often legal questions that arise. As independent contractors, workers are not entitled to many of the benefits employees receive, such as health insurance, sick days, vacations, paid holidays, and retirement accounts. Unfortunately, if an independent contractor is injured on the job, they are also not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. So, what legal recourse do they have if they have been injured?
Experienced workers compensation attorneys have represented countless numbers of clients who have been injured on the job and have successfully obtained workers’ compensation benefits in many situations where the company and/ or insurance company disputed or denied the claim. We have also represented independent contractors who have been injured on the job. In many situations, it turns out that the employer misclassified the independent contractor and they were legally considered employees and entitled to workers comp benefits. For those clients who were independent contractors, we were also able to obtain financial compensation for them as well through third-party lawsuits.
Are You Really an Employee?
There are many situations where a company will intentionally classify an employee as an independent contractor in order to avoid providing them with the benefits that employees are entitled to. Under federal law, there are certain criteria that need to be met in order to be legally deemed an employee and not an independent contractor. These include:
- What type of instruction and training has the person been given, such as when they have to work, where they have to work, what tools they need to use, and where they need to purchase work supplies?
- What is the degree of instruction the person has been given from the employer? The more detailed the instruction, the more likely they should be classified as an employee.
- Is the person receiving periodic or ongoing training regarding the methods and procedures required to do the job? Independent contractors usually have their own methods.
- Is there an evaluation system measuring the person’s performance of the work they are doing?
- Who is the entity that has invested in the equipment the worker is using for the job?
- Is the person reimbursed for any expenses they incur while performing their work?
- Is the person free to work off their services to other companies, as well?
- Can the person make a profit or loss from the position?
- How is the person paid for their services?
- Is there a written contract between the person and the employer stating the person is an independent contractor (this is legally not enough to determine the person’s status)?
- Are there any benefits the person is receiving from the company?
- Is the person expected to continue indefinitely with the company or are they only working on a certain project or during a certain period of time?
If an independent contractor does not meet any of the above criteria, there are still legal options to pursue if they are injured while performing work for the company. If there was negligence or recklessness on the part of the business that resulted in the independent contractor’s injuries, then a personal injury lawsuit can be filed against that business. Even if the person is not an employee, the business still owes a duty of care to provide a safe environment for that person to be in.
If the injury was a result of the negligence of a third party, a personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and see if you can file a third-party claim against that party.