Can Independent Contractors File for Workers’ Compensation?
Self-employment seems more common than ever. Just before the pandemic, a Gallup poll commissioned by QuickBooks found that 28 percent of workers were at least partly self-employed. Of those, nearly half relied on self-employment as their primary source of income. Georgia in particular seems to be a hotspot. Along with Vermont and Florida, it saw the biggest increase in self-employment tax filings from 2000 to 2017.
But while independent contracting, solo entrepreneurships or gig work can be a great choice for those who want flexible schedules, control over their work or extra income, there are some gaps when it comes to traditional benefits. Most independent workers will realize their choice means forgoing company health insurance or a 401(k), but what many don’t realize is that it also leaves them exposed in the event of a workplace accident.
Do employers have to carry workers’ comp for independent contractors?
Under Georgia law, it’s optional for employers to cover workers’ comp for independent contractors. Some businesses may choose to take that additional expense, but most, in order to save on insurance premiums, do not.
This means that a contractor injured on the job very likely does not qualify for workers’ compensation and the protections it provides. To make matters worse, health insurance typically does not cover workplace injuries, meaning that an independent contractor can easily be on the hook for his or her own medical expenses and missed time from work.
Has your employer misclassified you as an independent contractor?
If you’re injured at work and you don’t qualify for workers’ comp as an independent contractor, you may still have options. Employers sometimes purposefully misclassify employees as independent contractors, to save on both insurance premiums and payroll taxes. When it comes to securing workers’ comp coverage, your classification is less important than the nature of the work you do.
An Atlanta workers’ comp attorney can help you determine if you’re actually an employee—not an independent contractor. A true independent contractor has a great amount of control over hours, schedules and the type of job accepted. He or she likely works for several clients and is able to complete tasks or provide services without much oversight. If you have a schedule, you’re paid hourly wages, you’re managed by your employer or you have little control over your work, the “independent” nature of your work classification comes into question.
If a workers’ comp attorney in Atlanta suspects that you’ve been misclassified, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation, and your employer may be penalized.
Protections for independent contractors
If you are a true independent contractor, it’s possible to still have workers’ comp coverage—you’ll just have to pay for it yourself. Independent contractors and sole proprietors can purchase their own workers’ comp insurance to protect themselves and their businesses. In some cases, a contract may even require you to carry workers’ comp.
Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer today
If you’re an independent contractor who has been injured on the job, it’s important to speak with an attorney to discuss your job classification. At the Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera, we’re dedicated to workers’ comp cases, and we understand the legal options for employees misclassified as independent contractors. Contact the Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera today for a free consultation, or give us a call at 404-991-5097.
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