As the world rapidly hurtles into a future dominated by technology, more and more people are working as independent contractors.
Though such jobs offer more freedom than traditional roles in the workplace, there are some key differences between independent contractors and employees that should be considered by both the employer and the worker.
For one, independent contractors are not provided with workers’ compensation benefits. However, some employers struggle to distinguish between independent contractors and employees. In some situations, this designation and the accompanying workers’ compensation benefits (or lack thereof) are determined in a court of law. So, although you may deem your worker an “independent contractor” a Louisiana workers’ compensation judge may rule otherwise.
Classifying Workers as Independent Contractors or Formal Employees
The designation of a worker as a direct employee of the business as opposed to a self-employed independent contractor is of the utmost importance. The challenge lies in determining which workers qualify as traditional employees and which qualify as independent contractors. If the employer successfully argues the worker in question is not a direct employee of the business, he or she will likely be classified as a self-employed independent contractor who does not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits (although there is one exception).
Though it is possible for independent contractors to obtain workers’ compensation benefits through their own policy, few are willing to go to this extent. Ideally, the worker and employer will determine the employment classification before the hire is made. However, some employers forego making this important initial distinction or fail to document the distinction in the proper manner, leaving the door open for the employee to argue that he or she is actually a direct employee of the organization and eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Can Independent Contractors Still File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In short, yes. Such a claim can be filed under the independent contractor’s workers’ compensation coverage or the employer’s. Though the employer would likely contest such a workers’ compensation claim made by an independent contractor, the independent contractor has a chance of emerging victorious. Independent contractors have few options after enduring a work-related injury. If the injured worker’s attorney can establish that the independent contractor was actually an employee of the employer or that the independent contractor was performing manual labor, it is possible the workers’ compensation claim will be approved. It is more likely, however, that the injured independent contractor will consider filing a lawsuit against the employer. If the employer’s actions qualify as negligence, the lawsuit will result in a payout to the injured worker or a favorable settlement.
The Definition of an Independent Contractor
The definition of an independent contractor differs by state. The nuanced wording of our state’s Department of Labor’s definition of independent contractors matters a great deal. Furthermore, the interpretation of these words in the context of your employment are also of the utmost importance. In general, the main test to determine if an employer/employee relationship is present as opposed to a relationship between a business and an independent contractor is whether the business has the right to control the details of the work in question. Everything from the business’s supposed right to control the worker’s activities to the manner in which the employee is paid, whether the employer furnishes tools/equipment and whether the employer has the legal right to fire the worker determine whether he or she is an independent contractor or direct employee.
Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys are a Call Away
If you have been hurt while performing any activity even remotely related to work, you deserve a thorough review of your case. We are willing to review the details of your injury whether you are a direct employee of the business or whether the court is likely to view you as an independent contractor. Reach out to us at (985) 288-4621 for a thorough review of your case.