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Are independent contractors eligible for workers' compensation?

We frequently write about the benefits of workers’ compensation. This system generally allows injured workers to bypass legal proceedings and unnecessary red tape when seeking proper compensation for their work-related injuries. However, not all workers are eligible for workers’ compensation. Depending on the laws in whatever state workers are employed in, compensation eligibility laws may vary. In addition, not every worker is classified in such a way that he or she is eligible to receive these benefits in the event of work-related illness or injury.

For example, independent contractors are not often eligible for workers’ compensation. It is important for any independent contractor injured on the job to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney because his or her unique circumstances may allow for coverage. However, the general classification of independent contractors does not allow for coverage and benefits.

It is important to understand that many workers are misclassified by their employers as independent contractors, when their duties and circumstances make them employees under the law. If an independent contractor is misclassified and is hurt or made ill while on the job, that individual may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits despite his or her original classification.

An attorney can aid independent contractors in determining whether they should ultimately be made eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. And even if the independent contractor classification is legitimate, an attorney may be able to help these ill or injured workers receive compensation by pursuing some other legal avenue such as a personal injury suit against a negligent employer.

Source: Findlaw Injured, “Can Independent Contractors Get Workers' Comp?” Daniel Taylor, Dec. 16, 2014

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