Are you working as an independent contractor and wondering if you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits? The honest truth is that, in most instances, you cannot obtain workers’ compensation. However, in some cases, an employer may have accidentally classified you as an independent contractor when in fact, you’re actually an employee of the company. Let’s dive into the differences between these two categories and how you can determine if you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or not.
What is the Difference Between an Independent Contractor and an Employee?
An independent contractor essentially works for themselves. They are allowed more flexibility and freedom than employees but receive no additional benefits such as paid time off, a 401K, or health insurance. Independent contractors must file their own taxes and pay for any additional benefits on their own. They may be hired to work for a set amount of time for a business on a contractual basis.
Employees, on the other hand, belong on a company’s payroll and retain additional benefits such as health insurance, PTO, and a 401K in exchange for signing an agreement to stay loyal to the company’s guidelines. Companies withhold taxes for employees, unlike contractors, and they typically have to worry less about job security. However, sometimes the line between an independent contractor and an employee can become a little blurry. Should this come into question, a court can decide what category they fall into by looking at the distribution of work, how the worker is being paid, if the company is providing equipment for the worker, and the type of work being performed.
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How Does the Court Determine if You’re an Independent Contractor?
As mentioned above, the courts use a few different factors to decide if a person is an independent contractor or an employee. Let’s take a closer look at each one of these factors.
1. Amount of Direction and Control
An independent contractor determines which services are provided to the employer, including who contributes to the services and how they are delivered. This is made in accordance with some type of contract, whether written or verbal, and it occurs without the direct supervision of the employer.
Contractors usually receive payment on a per-job basis, whereas employees belong to a company payroll. Employee wages are set on a per-hour or salaried basis, and unlike contractors, they typically undergo a hiring and interview process.
3. Equipment Provided
Employers provide any equipment necessary to complete a job to their employees. However, contractors are often tasked with buying and purchasing equipment independently.
4. Character of Work and Training
Contractors provide specialized services and, thus, are often tasked with one or two main jobs by the employer. They also tend to have multiple contract-based jobs from various employers. On the other hand, employees tend to have regular training from the same company and can perform multiple tasks (as opposed to one or two).
5. Written Contracts
Independent contractors typically sign written agreements stating that they are an independent contractor for a company. However, this does not necessarily mean they are one. The state workers comp board determines if a worker is, in fact, a contract worker or an employee.
When are You Entitled to Workers’ Compensation as an Independent Contractor?
Unfortunately, the only instance you are entitled to workers’ compensation as an independent contractor is if you have been wrongly classified as one. Ergo, you are typically not entitled to any benefits after a work-related illness or injury. However, you can still sue the company if your injury resulted from their negligence, so it’s important to discuss your situation with an attorney immediately to determine your entire range of legal options.
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Have You Suffered Injuries While Working as an Independent Contractor in South Carolina?
If you’ve been the victim of a workplace-related injury in the Upstate of South Carolina, speak with one of the personal injury lawyers at the Hammack Law Firm right away. We will provide you with a free legal consultation to assess your full range of legal options. You may still be eligible to reclaim your losses, even if your employer has classified you as a contract worker.
Call or text 864-740-8653 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form