The traditional workplace is shifting as more and more professionals choose to become independent contractors, working by the job or in a freelance capacity. While working as such does have its advantages, independent contracting typically disqualifies the worker from employment benefits, such as workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that is paid into by an employer, and offers payment for medical bills and lost wages should an employee be injured on the job. Benefits typically run until an employee is cleared to return to work or longer should the injury be debilitating. In exchange for these benefits, employees give up the opportunity to sue their employers, even if the employer was at fault for the injury.
Typically, only employees are covered by a business’s workers’ compensation insurance – independent contractors are not. Independent contractors are not categorized as employees, as they control the work they do rather than the employer.
Because they are not considered employees, independent contractors may wish to purchase their own workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits should they be injured while working. Private insurance may be available as well as state programs. Hiring an independent contractor who holds workers’ compensation insurance may be preferable to a business to avoid liability.
If an independent contractor does not have workers’ compensation insurance, their options may be limited should they become injured on the job. They must pay their own medical bills relating to the injury and won’t be able to recover lost wages.
Depending on the circumstances, the independent contractor may be able to file a third party personal injury claim against the hiring company to recover compensation. It is best to speak with an experienced attorney about your options.
In some cases, an independent contractor may have been misclassified when they should have been considered an employee. Some employers misclassify personnel as independent contractors in attempts to avoid benefits and obligations owed to employees, such as workers’ compensation.
If hurt on the job, an independent contractor may consider reviewing their classification to see if they should actually be considered an employee, as they may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they are deemed an employee. An attorney can assist an independent contractor in reviewing their employment classification for accuracy.
If you are an independent contractor who has been injured while working, contact our employment law attorneys for a free review of your claim to learn more about your legal options.