In California, an employee who is injured on the job is entitled to receive workers’ compensation to cover hospital bills and disability payments while they’re unable to work. Unfortunately, independent contractors aren’t eligible for the same benefits. In addition to worrying about how to pay for costly medical expenses, these workers aren’t compensated for lost wages during their recovery.
However, if you’re an independent contractor and suffered an injury on the job, don’t automatically assume you don’t qualify to receive benefits. In some cases employers misclassify employees as “independent contractors” on purpose so they don’t have to pay out. If this happens to you, it’s important to determine your employment status as soon as possible to ensure you’re receiving the benefits you’re entitled to.
How do I know if I’m an employee or an independent contractor?
There isn’t a set definition for what qualifies a worker as an independent contractor. Rather, one must look to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), which is concerned with whether wage, hour, and workers’ compensation insurance laws apply in each unique situation.
For most matters brought before the DLSE, multiple factors must be considered before determining a worker’s employment status and, thus, his or her eligibility for workers’ compensation. The list is quite long, but some examples of these factors include:
Whether the employer or the worker is responsible for providing the tools, supplies and the place for the person doing the work
How long the worker’s services are to be performed
The level of permanence of the working relationship
The method of payment, whether by the project or by the hour
Also, it’s important to note that even if you have a written agreement establishing an independent contractor relationship, it’s not the determining factor of your independent contractor status. The same goes for the tax form you filled out. Even if you were issued a 1099 rather than a W-2, this doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
What can I do if I believe my employer has misclassified me as an independent contractor?
If you suspect your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor to avoid paying workers’ compensation, you can either file a wage claim with the DLSE or you can file action against your employer in court. If you choose this route, you’ll need someone to fight hard on your behalf. At Gerald Brody & Associates, we have years of experience helping people like you get the benefits they’re entitled to, including those who have been unjustly denied workers’ compensation by their employer.
If you have suffered an injury at work and your employer has rejected your request for workers’ compensation, call Gerald Brody & Associates by giving us a call at (619) 528-9800. We promise to do everything we can to get you the benefits you deserve.