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Independent Contractor: Can You File for Workers Comp Benefits?

Being injured on the job can be challenging if you are an independent contractor. As any Houston workers compensation lawyer can tell you, this category of workers is not covered by this type of benefits. However, not all situations are cut and dry. If you suffered an accident while performing your job duties, you should still contact one of our attorneys and explain your working circumstances.

In many situations, a workers comp lawyer in Houston is able to prove that your employer misclassified you as an independent contractor. This happens more often than you would imagine. Many companies are trying to reduce their obligations to pay compensation and other benefits to their employees and change their status to independent contractors. In reality, that person is completely under the employer’s control and does not have any other sources of income.

What Exactly Defines an Independent Contractor?

Investopedia defines an independent contractor as a self-employed person or entity that performs work for or provides services to another entity in a non-employee capacity. Some of the most common types of professions and jobs falling under this scope are: doctors, dentists, lawyers, veterinarians, actors and musicians.

For further understanding, an independent contractor is defined by these:

  • The amount of control – an independent contractor can determine the manner in which the job is performed
  • The pay – independent contractors are paid per job or per project, while employees receive weekly wages or monthly salary
  • Who owns the tools and equipment – an independent contractor will use their own tools to perform the tasks they were hired to perform.

A Houston workers compensation lawyer will compare your daily activity against each of these specific factors. In many situations, our lawyers realize that a person has been misclassified as an independent contractor.

Does It Make Any Difference If I Was Wrongly Classified?

In case of a work related accident, it makes a lot of difference. And there are very clear guidelines showing that making this type of misclassification is not right. For instance, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a very important disclaimer in its definition of an independent contractor. It states:

“You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed.”

In this case, a workers comp lawyer in Houston will definitely instruct you to follow the general rules applicable to employees who suffer a workplace accident. This involves:

1. Getting Diagnosed by a Doctor as Soon as Possible after the Accident

An injury or condition caused by a work-related accident is recognized as such only after you were diagnosed by a licensed healthcare professional. There are many important reasons why you should not delay seeking medical attention:

  • You could have severe injuries that do not show symptoms immediately
  • You can prove that the injuries were caused by the respective accident
  • Not doing so will lead to an accusation of failure to mitigate your damages.

2. Report Your Accident to the Employer in Writing

Employees have only 30 days to report a workplace accident. Even if you believe that you are labeled as an independent contractor, you should still comply with this rule. Also, you must explain to your employer that you believe that you were misclassified. In most cases, your employer will deny that it is so.

3. Let a Houston Workers Compensation Lawyer Prove Your True Status

Based on the definition of an independent contractor and the IRS disclaimer, a lawyer can prove that, in fact:

  • You are paid weekly wages or a monthly salary
  • Your employer controls how you perform your work
  • Your employer provides the tools you use in performing the work
  • This employment is your only source of income.

With these data in hand, workers comp lawyer in Houston can determine your employer to correct your status and accept your claim for benefits.

4.  Comply with Any Medical Examination Requests by the Employer

If your lawyer is successful in making your true status clear, this is not actually the end of the road. You still have to accept to get examined and treated by an employer approved doctor. Failure to do so will get your claim denied – so the entire effort to prove that you are not an independent contractor was for nothing.

5. Do Not Interrupt the Medical Treatment for Any Reason

Workers’ comp benefits cover all your medical costs. Thus, even if you are prescribed expensive medications, you should refill your prescriptions for as long as your doctor says so. When you interrupt your treatment, your benefits will also stop coming in.

Moreover, your employer will consider that you are fully healed and will request you to resume your work. If you refuse to do so, you will certainly get fired. The best course of action is to follow all the doctors’ recommendation and – if recalled to your job too early – show up for work and contact your Houston workers compensation lawyer to file an appeal.

What If You Really Are an Independent Contractor?

If a lawyer cannot dispute your status as an independent contractor, you still have a legal recourse if you were injured on the job: filing a personal injury lawsuit against the employer. In this lawsuit, you will claim that your injuries were caused by the employer’s breach of their duty of care – to create and maintain a safe work environment for you.

This breach due to negligence caused the accident resulting in your injuries and economic damages. Actually, you stand to win a larger compensation amount from a personal injury lawsuit than from workers’ comp benefits, because your lawyer will also seek non-economic damages for pain and suffering. This form of compensation is not available to injured employees.

Our Houston Workers Comp Law Firm Will Find a Solution for Your Case!

At Houston Lawyers 360 you will find a team of experienced workers compensation lawyers who can face any challenge. We can prove that you are not an independent contractor, but an employee. Or we can win the maximum compensation you deserve in a personal injury lawsuit.

Do not hesitate to seek legal advice – we offer you a free case review. And if we believe that you have a solid case, we will take it and fight for your rights until we win. Find out how to protect these rights as soon as possible after your accident: 346-22-1821!

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