You’ve been hurt on the job, and workers’ compensation is your first thought. But what happens if you’re an independent contractor? Can you get workers’ compensation benefits or are you on the hook for your own lost income and medical bills? There are several things to look at when answering this question, which is why it’s important to get an attorney’s input before moving forward.
If you’ve been hurt on the job, let the team at Thiry & Caddell help you. Call us at 251-478-8880 to schedule a consultation now.
Can True Independent Contractors Get Workers’ Comp?
You’re doing work for a company, but you’re doing so as an independent contractor. This means getting a 1099 form instead of a W2, paying your own taxes, and being ineligible for a wide range of employment benefits. This also benefits employers, as they can pay less in workers’ compensation insurance and spend less on payroll taxes.
Unfortunately, this means that you’re on your own as far as workers’ comp goes if you get injured while working. If you are truly an independent contractor and you are hurt during the course of your work, you’ll need to get your medical bills covered by your medical insurance and figure out a way to cover any lost earnings.
Finding Out If You’re Really an Independent Contractor
Even though independent contractors cannot receive workers’ compensation if they are hurt on the job, this does not mean it’s time to give up. You may be surprised to find out that you might be misclassified as an independent contractor.
This is sadly common. Some employers know that employees do not know their rights, and so they classify employees as independent contractors. In doing so, they limit their workers’ comp premiums, spend less on payroll taxes, and don’t have to offer benefits.
In order to be a true independent contractor, however, you have to look at the criteria set by the IRS:
- How much control do you have over your own work? If you’re an independent contractor, you should have substantial control over your own work. You have certain tasks to do, but you can do them in the way you choose and when you choose. If the company tells you when to work and you are directly supervised, you may be an employee. For example, if you have to be at your desk 8:00-4:00, Monday through Friday, you don’t have control over your work.
- How are you paid? Typically, employees are paid hourly or receive a salary. Independent contractors are often paid by the job, but they might bill the company they work for on an hourly basis.
- Whose tools and equipment do you use? If you use your own tools and equipment, you may be an independent contractor. Consider, for example, a freelance writer who uses their own computer and research tools, or a mechanic with their own toolset. If you are required to use company-provided equipment, you may be considered an employee.
- What type of work do you do? The type of work you do may indicate whether you are an employee or an independent contractor. If your work is specialized and you are free to offer it to multiple companies, you may be an independent contractor. If you perform more general tasks and cannot do work for a company’s competitors, you may be an employee.
If you are, in fact, an employee, you can file a workers’ compensation claim. Expect the company to dispute it and preemptively hire a workers’ compensation attorney. They can help you fight for what you’re owed and take your claim up with the appropriate authorities.
Other Parties May Be Liable
Even if you are an independent contractor, you may still have options. If someone else is liable for the injuries you suffered, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. Liable parties vary, depending on the industry you’re in and the type of accident you suffer.
Possible liable parties include the company owner, the property owner, the manufacturer of a piece of defective equipment, or the driver of a vehicle that hit you on the job. When you meet with an attorney, give them the details of your accident and allow them to explain your options.
Start Your Claim with Thiry & Caddell
Workplace accidents can be confusing, with multiple potentially liable parties and sources of compensation. We can help. Schedule a consultation with the team at Thiry & Caddell online or call us at 251-478-8880.