Independent contractors who are injured while working often find out too late that they are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. In most cases, if you’re injured or you develop an illness and it leads to damages, your only option for recovery will be to file a lawsuit to get compensation.
To get compensation, you’ll have to prove that your injuries never would have happened if the company you’ve contracted with hadn’t acted negligently. This may be easier said than done.
True independent contractors are not covered by workers’ comp, but in many cases, workers are described as independent contractors when they do not meet the standard according to the state’s laws.
Independent Contractor or Employee — How to Tell the Difference?
Most companies will make you sign a contract that states you are an independent contractor before they’ll work with you. They do this so they won’t be on the hook financially if you are injured, and they hope that you don’t know your rights so you won’t dispute it.
A contract defining your role will not hold up in court if it is determined that you do not meet your state’s standards for an independent contractor. Each state’s definition of an independent contractor is different.
If you’re wondering what your status is, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did you fill out a job application that was reviewed by human resources?
- When you were hired did you complete IRS form W-4?
- Are you paid an hourly rate or salary?
- Are you permitted to work for anyone else?
- Can you do your job the way you want to do it, or does the company you’ve contracted with telling you how you need to do your job?
- Did you sign a contract with the company that mentions any kind of employee benefits?
- Does the company provide your equipment and supplies?
- Do you use the IRS form W-2 to report your earnings?
- Can you work any hours you choose or does the company dictate your schedule?
- Do you have any say in how you are paid or is it solely the company’s decision?
If you can answer, “Yes,” to any of these questions, you may be classified as an employee. If that is the case, the company is legally obligated to provide you with workers’ compensation coverage.
Examples of Independent Contractors vs Employees
Zeena is hired as an independent contractor to do marketing for Andrew. Andrew requires her to be in the office Monday through Friday during business hours so she can act as a receptionist. He pays Zeena through an app as though she were an independent contractor, but she’s still an employee in the eyes of the law.
Scott is hired as a 1099 employee for a company that requires his woodworking skills. He has his own truck, tools, and business cards, and he chooses his own hours. No one in the company tells Scott how to work. He is paid by the completed project according to his own rates. Scott is an independent contractor.
Juana is hired as an independent contractor by a family who needs a nanny for their three children and housekeeping help. Juana brings her own cleaning supplies and equipment. The parents reimburse her for supplies. They have requested that Juana not work for other families because they want her to be available when they need her. Juana is an employee.
If You Are a 1099 Worker Who Was Injured on the Job
If you’re an independent contractor who was injured while you were within the scope of your professional duties, you will most likely have a hard time getting workers’ compensation.
The insurance company will argue that you are not eligible for coverage, even if you were. You can visit this website if you want to know more about workers’ compensation eligibility.
An attorney can explain your rights and determine whether or not you qualify as an employee. The burden of proving you were not an employee will fall on the company, and the law in these cases is typically on the employees’ side. If your claim is denied, your lawyer can tell you how to appeal and walk you through the process.