Workers’ compensation, sometimes called workers’ comp or workman’s comp, provides benefits to cover the medical expenses and lost wages of workers who are injured on the job.
Any employer in Georgia with three or more employees (including part-time employees, as long as they work there regularly) is required by law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover their workers if they get hurt. But are independent contractors covered?
Unfortunately, Georgia law defines independent contractors as employers and not employees, which means in nearly every circumstance, they are not eligible for workers’ compensation.
When Can an Independent Contractor Get Workers’ Compensation in Georgia?
If you’re an independent contractor and get injured while working, you may be wondering what your options are to cover your medical expenses and recover lost income.
In many cases, a worker’s status as either an employee or contractor is clear. However, in other cases, the employer may call you an independent contractor but treat you as an employee, which could make you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Depending on the circumstances of your employment, a case for an employer-employee relationship (and the right to workers’ compensation benefits) can be made by an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, even if you file your wages under a 1099 form rather than a W2.
- Did you sign an independent contractor agreement with the employer? If not, you could be considered an employee.
- Are you paid hourly or per job? Independent contractors are usually paid on a per-job basis.
- Did the employer withhold taxes from your pay? Then you are likely considered an employee.
- Is the work you completed part of the employer’s regular business or an additional service? If the work you performed is part of the employer’s regular business, it may indicate employee status.
- Who supplied the tools and materials needed to complete the work? Contractors typically supply their own tools and materials.
- Do you complete jobs for many employers, or only one employer? A worker who receives training and regular work from the same employer is more likely to be considered an employee of that employer.
- Do you control your own hours and method of accomplishing the job you were hired for? The more control the employer has over how you work, the more likely you are to be considered an employee.
Can Independent Contractors Buy Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Yes, when workers’ compensation insurance isn’t provided by an employer, independent contractors may choose to purchase it for themselves to cover their expenses in case of injury while working, as many health insurance plans may exclude coverage for work-related illnesses and injuries.
Georgia law does not require independent contractors to purchase their own workers’ compensation insurance, but some businesses will request any contractors purchase their own insurance as part of the terms of their contract.
Can Independent Contractors Sue for Compensation After an Injury On the Job?
Yes, if their injuries were caused by negligence on the part of the party they signed a contract with.
While employees are guaranteed compensation for their medical expenses and lost wages after an injury or illness acquired on the job, they do not have the legal right to sue their employers for additional compensation, such as for pain and suffering.
Independent contractors are not employees, and do have the legal right to sue. However, when filing a personal injury lawsuit, the contractor must prove they were injured because of the at-fault party’s negligence (unlike workers’ compensation claims, which do not require proving fault).
After a Work Injury in Georgia, Call the Law Offices of Gary Bruce
If you were injured while working and believe that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor in order to deny you benefits, or you believe you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, we want to hear your story. Contact our firm today for a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Georgia.