If you were injured on the job as an independent contractor, you are generally not protected by Workers’ Compensation laws. But that is not always the case and it is not nearly that simple. Each state is different. Even the criteria for determining whether or not you are truly an independent contractor varies by state. And, just because you are considered an independent contractor for tax purposes, doesn’t mean that you are considered an independent contractor under your state’s Workers’ Compensation laws.
Even if you are not protected by Workers’ Compensation law, the company or person who hired you may have elected to carry Workers’ Compensation coverage for your protection and theirs.
Independent Contractor Misclassification
Misclassification of employees as independent contractors is very common. And both the worker and the employer may fully believe that the classification applies. The problem for workers, is that they do not have the protection of Workers’ Compensation or unemployment benefits. The advantage for employers is that they save money and do not have to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance, but it also creates a potentially larger risk for employers.
When an employee is hurt, they can receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits without the need to prove fault, but they are barred from suing their employer. An independent contractor is free to sue for full damages.
The criteria for independent contractor classification are different in each state and sometimes different depending on the occupation or industry. If you are operating under your own business name, with your own licensing and insurance, have more than one client, determine your own work hours and the manner in which work is performed, hire/fire and pay your own assistants, then you are probably truly considered an independent contractor.
To find out if you are protected by Workers’ Compensation laws in your state, talk to an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney in your area today.