The rise of the gig economy has also brought about a surplus of independent contractors. It may come as a surprise to find that not all independent contractors are employees. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), independent contractors are self-employed workers who have the right to control and direct every aspect of their work but the result. Independent contractors work in a variety of fields. They may work on an assignment for only minutes at a time, or they may work on extended long-term projects. Sometimes, they inevitably get hurt on the job. Such cases can quickly seem overwhelming and confusing. In this blog post, we will give a brief overview of independent contractors and workers’ compensation.
We have already established that independent contractors and employees hold two different positions. But how does that play out really? While employees and independent contractors may get paid comparatively, there are many important legal distinctions between the two titles. For instance, an employer will withhold income tax, Social Security, and Medicare from an employee’s wages. The same does not apply for independent contractors, who are also not covered under labor and employment laws. Employees will file W-4’s, while independent contractors will file W-9’s. Independent contractors must also report any payments of $600 or more per calendar year on a Form 1099.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for employers to misclassify their workers as independent contractors. The practice of misclassification often allows employers to circumvent taxes and insurance premiums. Many states have their own determining factors on what makes a worker an independent contractor or employee. However, if you:
Your employer may have misclassified you as an independent contractor. Fortunately, legal recourse is available. Contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney immediately if you suspect that your employer has misclassified you. You can also file complaints with the IRS and the Department of Labor. You may be paid back wages and other benefits as a result.
There are four main eligibility requirements when it comes to filing for workers’ compensation benefits. First, you must be an employee. Second, your employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Third, there must be a direct correlation between your injury and your workplace accident. Fourth, you must file your claim within your state’s statute of limitations.
In most cases, independent contractors will be ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits from a general contractor or business owner. Still, some exceptions may apply. For instance, some states require general contractors to cover their uninsured subcontractors. (You may also want to consider buying workers’ compensation insurance if you do a lot of contracting work.) Since every case is different, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer about your next steps.
It is important to note that not all employees are automatically eligible for workers’ compensation. Certain categories of workers are frequently exempt from receiving workers’ compensation benefits, including agricultural or farm-workers, casual or seasonal workers, domestic workers, “leased” or “loaned” workers, and undocumented workers. However, most of these cases will vary state by state.
For instance, most states do not require any workers’ compensation coverage for domestic workers in private homes. However, certain states may choose to exclude such workers only if they are working part-time. Similarly, agricultural and farm-workers who work on small farms are exempt from receiving workers’ compensation in several states. Depending on the state, casual or seasonal workers may only be exempt if they were working a position outside of their primary profession. Finally, while most states will cover undocumented employees, this is a consistently changing issue.
The term “leased” or “loaned” workers refers to those who are employed by a staffing or temp agency. If such workers are injured on the job with another employer, then they should expect to be covered by workers’ compensation. However, it may be difficult to determine which employer’s insurance will kick in for the injured worker.
If workers’ compensation is not an option for you, then you may still be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. Employees generally cannot take this avenue, as they have the option of filing for workers’ compensation benefits. However, such rules do not apply to independent contractors. Filing a personal injury claim may be a viable choice for you if you can prove that a negligent party caused your accident. A successful claim settlement may compensate you for both economic damages (such as lost wages) and non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering). In contrast, employees under workers’ compensation cannot receive compensation for non-economic damages.
Taking care of a workplace injury can be overwhelming, especially if it happened as a result of someone else’s negligence. You have to figure out how to take care of your medical expenses, get back to work, and pull your life back together. The whole process can leave you feeling spent and confused.
There are many options available to you in the case of a workplace accident. Workers’ compensation is just one of them. In times like these, you need someone you can trust in your corner. We at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Our capable workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers treat every case and every client with the personalized care and attention they deserve.
Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. We believe you should never have to pay for someone else’s mistakes. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our trusted nationwide workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.