When an employee is hurt on the job, workers’ compensation laws offer a clear process for the claim. The injured employee has only one remedy: to file a workers’ compensation claim.
In theory, workers’ compensation benefits both the employee and the employer. Although disputes arise over the extent of injuries and whether they occurred on the job, the system is designed to assure the employee of receiving benefits without having to prove the employer’s negligence while limiting the employer’s risk exposure.
But what happens if you’re an independent contractor and you’re hurt on the job?
Why Companies Hire Independent Contractors
Increasingly, companies are hiring independent contractors for specific assignments. This arrangement benefits the worker, who gains freedom and flexibility in their work life, often at premium pay rates.
The independent contractor arrangement also benefits employers, because classifying a worker as a contractor results in a significant cost savings. That’s because with contractors, employers aren’t legally required to cover payroll taxes and their employees aren’t eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
What Can Injured Independent Contractors Do If They’re Injured at Work?
Independent contractors still have a remedy if they’re injured at work. As with any injured party, the independent contractor can file a personal injury lawsuit against the company or other third parties for negligence. If they win, independent contractors may recover damages for direct economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, but also for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering and diminished quality of life.
The First Question to Answer If You’re Injured at Work
An important first question when you’re injured on the job is whether you qualify as an “employee” or “independent contractor.” Your employer may tell you that you’re one or the other, but you shouldn’t always take your employer’s word for it.
Employers sometimes misclassify workers as “independent contractors” so they can enjoy the cost savings, even though the true nature of the working relationship is that of an employer/employee. Don’t just accept the employer’s label. You may need guidance from an experienced lawyer to help you figure it out.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured on the Job
If you’ve suffered an injury at work, you don’t have to go it alone. The lawyers at Hunter & Everage in Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina can help you obtain the workers’ compensation benefits and other compensation that you may be entitled to, regardless of whether you’re classified as an employee or an independent contractor. Give us a call today to discuss your injury claim.