Misclassified Independent Contractors Can Obtain Workers’ Compensation in Charlotte
On-the-job accidents that require a workers’ compensation claim happen every year – especially for those who work dangerous jobs. According to a January 2017 report on WSOC, five construction workers were injured after a driver crashed into them while they worked on the interstate. A couple of the workers were transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The construction workers were working on the Interstate 77 toll lanes located near the Brookshire Freeway. After hitting the workers, the vehicle ended up wedged between a paint truck and construction truck.
According to the report, the construction workers are expected to be alright. They were working behind barriers prior to the crash. NCDOT officials said they would be investigating to determine if there were enough barriers protecting the construction workers and how to improve safety.
The driver who crashed into the construction workers, a 26-year-old, was charged with driving while intoxicated, or DWI.
It is not known whether any of the construction workers injured applied for workers’ compensation or if they were independent contractors. Workers’ compensation is a state insurance program that helps injured employees receive money and other benefits when they cannot work.
The program was created so that employees did not have to file civil lawsuits against their employers.
The injuries the workers sustained are considered on-the-job injuries. In a workers’ compensation claim, an insurer typically covers the medical expenses and disability benefits to which the worker is entitled. In some circumstances, the employer may be self-insured for workers’ compensation benefits, and in those instances the payments are made directly by the employer. If an employer does not have workers’ compensation benefits the employer, including individual employers, can be held personally liable for the benefits owed.
Not everyone injured on the job receives workers’ compensation benefits. In order to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, a worker must be injured as a result of an “accident,” sustain a back injury as a result of a specific traumatic incident, or be injured as a result of an occupational disease or hazard specific to the occupation. An “accident” is considered a deviation from the normal work routine. Thus, if a worker sustains injury to his or her shoulder while doing his or her normal work, then the worker would likely not have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Who Is Considered an Independent Contractor in Charlotte?
In North Carolina, there is no specific definition of an independent contractor. Instead, independent contractor status is determined by common law. According to common law, an independent contractor is a person who is contracted to work for an individual or company. Also, they are not subjected to the controls of the individual or company regarding the way they work and they complete their tasks. In other words, the individual or company contracting the person cannot control when they work and their work tasks.
How is an Employee Classified as an Independent Contractor in Charlotte?
An employer is responsible for classifying an employee as an independent contractor. The classification can happen either when the person is hired or any time during their employment. Any time an employer classifies an employee as an independent contractor, it is called a misclassification.
Sometimes the misclassification may be a clerical error. Often, it is done on purpose to avoid paying unemployment insurance on the employee. When an injury occurs to the employee, they are often surprised when their claim for workers’ compensation benefits is denied by the employer or its insurer. For purposes of workers’ compensation benefits, however, the employer’s classification of the worker as an “independent contractor” is not determinative. Rather, the court will apply a test composed of several factors to determine whether the worker is truly an independent contractor.
Fighting the Independent Contractor Misclassification Status to Receive Workers’ Compensation in Charlotte
The first way to fight the misclassification of an independent contractor is to compare their duties to an actual independent worker. An independent contractor:
- Engages in an independent company, occupation or calling;
- Has special knowledge, training or skill in their occupation;
- Engages in a specific work task for a fixed price, on a quantitative basis or for a lump sum of money;
- Cannot be fired for his method of work;
- Selects their own work hours;
- Can hire their own assistants or workers; and
- Is not in the employment of others.
A Signed Contract May Not Overrule Employee Status in a Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Case
Many employers will point to a contract the individual signed at the start of their employment as the reason for their independent contractor status. However, that contract will not negate the factor that the individual was misclassified as an independent contractor.
Some employees may be hesitant to challenge their employer about their independent contractor status because they have signed the contract. They may be losing out on workers’ compensation benefits because they do not file a workers’ compensation claim and challenge the misclassification status.
The Workers’ Compensation Benefits an Employee is Eligible to Receive in Charlotte
An employee who sustains an injury at work is eligible for money and benefits. The type of benefits and the amount of money depends on the severity of the injury. In general, workers’ compensation covers:
- All medical care associated with the on-the-job injury;
- Retraining costs if the employee can no longer do their current job tasks because of the injury;
- Disability benefits – the benefits received are approximately two-thirds of their average weekly gross pay, and the employee may be eligible for these benefits up until the time the employee returns to work, or for a period of 500 weeks, whichever is shorter;
- Payment for permanent impairment subject to a formula set by statute; and,
- Supplemental job displacement benefits if the on-the-job injury requires them to enhance or retrain their skill set.
If an employee dies because of their on-the-job injury, their survivors are eligible for payments. Survivors are considered the employee’s children, spouse or other dependents.
Brown, Moore & Associates, PLLC Will Fight for Your Workplace Injury Rights
The workers’ compensation system does not cover independent contractors. This is what a company counts on when they label you an independent contractor or subcontractor. If an employer misclassifies a worker as an independent contractor that a court later determines is an actual employee, the employer can be held personally liable for all benefits owed under the workers’ compensation system.
Do not let your employer’s inaccurate label stop you from getting the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. You may have the right to receive workers’ compensation.
Contact our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Brown, Moore & Associates, PLLC for help. We are experienced and knowledgeable about workers’ compensation law. During our free, initial consultation we will explain whether you are an independent contractor or misclassified as one.
If you were misclassified as an independent contractor, we will fight to get you the workers’ compensation benefits you need. If you are an independent contractor injured on the job, we will explore all options to get you the money needed to recover from your injuries. One legal option is to file a personal injury claim against the third party who caused the accident. Contact us immediately.