Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that companies are required to carry to compensate workers in the case of an injury, illness, or death that results from their work duties. Workplace accidents are unfortunate but common, and this type of coverage helps protect workers and cover their medical expenses and lost wages that result from getting hurt at work. But it gets dicey when we try to define who is considered a worker, and who’s eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits. What about independent contractors?

Can independent contractors receive workers’ compensation benefits?

The short answer is this: No, independent contractors are not eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Only employees of a company can receive workers’ compensation. Independent contractors are expected to carry their own insurance to cover any medical expenses incurred as a result of injury on the job.

But—and this is important—sometimes, companies may misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying workers the benefits, including workers’ compensation benefits, that they deserve. If you think that your employer has mislabeled you as an independent contractor, you should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney to help you get the compensation you’re owed.

What’s the difference between an employee and an independent contractor?

There are five common tests used to determine whether a worker is considered an employee or an independent contractor: IRS Factor Control Test (a.k.a. 20 Factor Test), Economic Reality Test, Relative Nature of Work Test, ABC Test, and the Common Law Test (a.k.a. Right to Control Test). The test used depends on the particular situation at hand, and these tests might classify the same individual in different ways. The Economic Reality Test is often used to determine a worker’s status in regards to workers’ compensation benefits.

The differences between an employee and an independent contractor can be generalized, though. If the worker is on the regular payroll, has a regular schedule, and the company determines exactly how the work is completed, this suggests an employer-employee relationship. If the company deals only with the outcomes of the work, and the work is project-based or contract work, this may suggest an independent contractor relationship.

If you’ve been a victim of a workplace accident or injury and believe your workers’ comp claim has been unfairly denied or that your status as an independent contractor is in error, an experienced attorney can sort out your situation and help you get fair compensation. Call the Epstein Law Firm today.

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