Workers who are classified as independent contractors by their employers may assume that they are not eligible for workers' compensation if they suffer a personal injury while working.
While this usually turns out to be true, there are some circumstances that could qualify a personal injury plaintiff for eligibility for workers' compensation benefits. However, being granted benefits in such a situation will generally require a legal battle with the employer.
Misclassification of the independent contractor
The most common situation where an independent contractor ends up being eligible for workers' compensation for personal injury expenses is when the employer misclassified the independent contractor to begin with.
Employers usually prefer the independent contractor classification when they hire on workers because they do not have to provide benefits for independent contractors. However, an employer can not legally declare a worker an independent contractor whenever he or she wants. There are certain characteristics that the worker must exhibit:
The worker reports wages through a 1099-Miscellaneous tax form when paying income tax.
An employer should not be withholding taxes from your pay if you are an independent contractor. Independent contractors generally pay income taxes by submitting a Schedule C to the IRS that details earnings and expenses. On the other hand, an employee receives a W-2 form from an employer that shows what taxes have been automatically withheld.
The worker is not told how to get the job done by the employer.
An independent contractor is typically hired for a certain task because he or she has expertise in a certain area. This means that the independent contractor should not be taking direction from the employer but rather accomplishing the work task however he or she sees fit.
The worker uses his or her own equipment.
Independent contractors write off the costs of equipment they use to get their job done as business expenses. They should therefore be furnishing their own equipment to get the job done.
The Notice of Designation form
A worker who does not exhibit the above-mentioned characteristics may have a good chance at winning workers' compensation benefits from an employer after a personal injury. It's important that workers know that they could be deemed eligible for employee status by a court even if they have previously signed a Notice of Designation form.
A Notice of Designation form is a legal document in which the worker states his or her understanding that, as an independent contractor, he or she is not eligible for workers compensation benefits.
A personal injury law firm like Palmetto Injury Lawyers could overturn the legal weight of this document if a court is convinced that the employer wrongfully classified the worker to avoid having to cover the extra expenses of benefits and workers' compensation coverage.