Workers Comp for Independent Contractors & Subcontractors
After a workplace injury, workers typically assume that workers’ compensation will be available to help them pay for medical expenses and cover other financial losses. Workers are often in for a rude surprise when “employers” “tell” or “remind” them that they are not, in fact, employees — and not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through that employer.
These employers tell workers that the workers are independent contractors or subcontractors — and therefore are essentially on their own to deal with medical expenses and wage loss related to their injuries.
Did your “employer” have you sign documents at the beginning of your work tenure with that employer, stating that you were to be working as an independent contractor or a subcontractor?
Such a contract may be a meaningless piece of paper. Your designation as an employee or an independent contractor may depend on answers to questions such as the following:
- Whose materials were being used on the job site? Were tools being provided by the worker or by the employer?
- Did the employer set a specific time frame (such as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) during which work was to be performed?
- Did the worker have freedom to choose how the work was to be performed? Or did the employer specify procedures for completion of tasks?
- Did the worker have the ability to hire his or her own assistants?
- Was employment consistently with one employer, or did the worker provide services to multiple different employers?
A contract or agreement that you signed will not overrule facts that point to your status as an employee.
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you assert your rights to workers’ compensation benefits when your employer says that you are ineligible as an “independent contractor,” or a “subcontractor.”
What if your employer did not pay into workers’ compensation insurance for you, even though you were clearly an employee? In this case, your employer may be liable for all benefits that you would have been entitled to through properly paid workers’ comp insurance. Furthermore, your employer may be required to pay a penalty to the State of North Carolina for not properly classifying you as an employee and not paying into workers’ compensation on your behalf.
What if you are a subcontractor and your direct employer is himself an independent contractor, not paying into workers’ compensation? In this case, the general contractor may be liable.
Special rules and situations apply for certain job classifications, such as truck and tractor-trailer drivers. Disputes and challenges may arise that require legal action and court decisions. An accomplished Charlotte workers’ compensation law firm is a valuable asset to an injured independent contractor or subcontractor.
Contact a North Carolina Subcontractors & Workplace Injuries Lawyer
Bottom line: If you were injured on the job and were classified as an independent contractor or a subcontractor, you are encouraged to discuss your case with a Charlotte workers’ comp lawyer knowledgeable about independent contractors. Brown Moore & Associates, PLLC, is an established Charlotte and Monroe workers’ compensation law firm with experienced attorneys offering free initial consultations to injured workers in North Carolina.