When you’re hurt at work, one of the most common ways that your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company may try to avoid helping you is by saying you are an independent contractor.
Your company may point out the fact that you receive a 1099 form at the end of every year as proof of your status as an independent contractor.
But just because your company says you’re an independent contractor doesn’t automatically mean you cannot collect workers’ comp.
In this blog post, we’ll explain why you shouldn’t give up if you’re denied benefits. You still may be able to secure life-changing financial relief after an injury on the job.
The definition of “independent contractor” under Louisiana law sounds confusing. But it’s simpler than you might think.
This is how the law describes an independent contractor: “any person who renders service, other than manual labor, for a specified recompense for a specified result either as a unit or as a whole, under the control of his principal as to results of his work only, and not as to the means by which such result is accomplished.”
This is what that tangled language means—an independent contractor is someone with more autonomy than a regular employee. If you are truly hired as an independent contractor, you are hired for the result only, meaning your employer cannot dictate your schedule, wages, direct you how to do your job, or dismiss you.
But if your employer can do any of those things, then you are not considered an independent contractor under the law, even if your employer gives you a 1099 form at the end of every year.
So if you are told when to work, told how to do your job, subject to discipline or dismissal, and paid directly from your employer, chances are you will not be considered an independent contractor under the law—and you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for a workplace injury.
Even if you are truly an independent contractor, you still may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if the majority of your work is considered “manual labor” and you were hired to do a job considered to be part of the principal employer’s “trade, business, or occupation.”
For example, a general contractor is hired to construct a building. You work for a plumbing company and your company is hired to do the plumbing on the building. You hurt yourself while working on the pipes. You will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even though you were an independent contractor because your job as a plumber is considered “manual labor” and you were working to further the contractor’s business by helping construct a building, which is the core of what the contractor does.
This is a different scenario from an HVAC specialist replacing a restaurant’s air conditioning unit. Even through this work is also “manual labor,” the air-conditioning unit is not part of the restaurant’s “principal business,” which is serving food.
So even though you were doing manual labor, you would not be entitled to collect benefits from the restaurant but could still collect benefits from your direct employer.
These scenarios are very complicated, and there is no “one size fits all.”
The important thing to remember is that, if you are injured at work and your company says you cannot receive benefits because you are an independent contractor, you need to contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at Workers’ Compensation, LLC.
Our work injury lawyers have the knowledge and experience needed to look closely at your situation and determine how your role at work fits under the rules for independent contractors and workers’ comp. In fact, we’ve helped thousands of people in Louisiana with their workers’ comp claims.
You can get a lawyer for workers’ compensation to provide an initial evaluation of your case for free.
After you’re hurt at work, don’t let an employer shortchange you, and don’t leave anything to chance. Go after every form of financial support you may be qualified to receive.