Most people know that independent contractors are treated differently from employees in many respects. For example, if you’re not an employee, you won’t be able to file for unemployment. You also won’t be entitled to things like sick and personal days or vacation time. In most cases, independent contractors are not allowed to join their company’s health insurance plan or qualify for workers compensation.
The difficult part can be determining whether you qualify as an employee. Our Augusta workers comp lawyers meet with dozens of people every year who were seriously injured on the job. A handful of these people came to us because they had no idea why their workers compensation benefits were denied. They said that, until then, they had always been treated like an employee. It wasn’t until they got hurt on the job that their company told them they were technically an independent contractor, thereby not entitled to benefits.
Rather than have you blindsided like this, we suggest you meet with your employer ahead of time and find out where you stand. If they tell you that you’re an independent contractor, this means you won’t be entitled to several things, including workers compensation benefits. You may not agree that you’re an independent contractor. You may feel that you’ve been treated as an employee since the day you were hired. If that’s the case, our workers compensation attorneys in Augusta will do our best to prove that this is the case.
Only Certain Categories of Workers are Eligible for Workers Compensation Benefits
When the workers compensation program was created, it was intended to protect workers from job-related injuries. At the same time, it was meant to protect employers as well. There was no way companies could afford to defend a lawsuit every time an employee got hurt on the job. The thought was that there was no need for this sort of protection when it came to certain categories of workers. Therefore, the following groups were excluded from collecting workers compensation benefits in Georgia:
- agricultural workers
- railroad workers
- federal employees
- temporary or casual workers
- seasonal workers
- domestic servants
- independent contractors
If you happen to fall into one of these groups, you won’t be allowed to file for workers compensation. As you can imagine, it’s important that you know how to distinguish between an employee and an independent contractor.
Your Augusta Workers Comp Lawyer Will Need to See Your Personnel Records
If your workers compensation claim was denied because you were considered an independent contractor, you will not receive benefits. One thing your Augusta workers comp lawyer can do is argue that you were an employee for all intents and purposes. Some of the things they’ll need to review with you include the following:
- Do you have a contract with your employer?
- Do you work independently or are you under the supervision of another employee?
- Do you receive the same kind of employment benefits as other workers?
- Do you make your own hours, or do you have to work a schedule set by your employer?
- Do you work on-site, or do you get to work remotely?
These questions can help your workers compensation attorney in Augusta determine if you were an employee or an independent contractor. This determination can mean the difference between getting benefits and not getting benefits. One of the things that can help your attorney make this determination is a copy of your personnel records. This will include paperwork related to your employment. If your lawyer sees things that imply that you were treated like an employee, they’ll present the documentation as part of your appeal.
What Happens if You Are Deemed an Independent Contractor?
If you are deemed an independent contractor, then you will not be able to file for workers compensation benefits. Instead, your Augusta workers comp lawyer will have to file suit against your employer.
This will be treated like a regular personal injury lawsuit. You’ll have to prove negligence in order to win your case. As long as your workers compensation attorney in Augusta can prove that your employer didn’t behave the way a reasonable employer would have given the circumstances, you may prevail.
Under workers compensation, the only benefits you receive include medical care for your work-related injuries and weekly replacement wages. However, when you sue under personal injury, you’re entitled to a lot more. Some of the damages your attorney will demand include the following:
- medical bills and future medical bills
- lost wages
- lost future income
- pain and suffering
Since you’re not limited to the restrictions of workers comp, you can collect more in the way of compensation. In a way, it may not be a bad thing that you were classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee.
Our Augusta Workers Comp Lawyer Can Help You Pursue Your Employer for Damages
If you are declared an independent contractor and are denied benefits, we may be able to help. If you were hurt at work but aren’t eligible for workers compensation benefits, you may be able to sue your employer. The law states that employees are limited to workers compensation as recourse against their employer. However, since you aren’t technically an employee, this limitation doesn’t apply to you.
To find out what your options are, give us a call. We can schedule your free, initial consultation with one of our seasoned workers compensation attorneys in Augusta, Georgia. This gives us a chance to sit down with you and hear your side of the story. If you were injured on the job, you should have some documentation outlining what happened. You should also have medical records showing us how badly you were injured. Once we’ve had a chance to review all of this information, we’ll have a better idea if a personal injury lawsuit is your best option.
Since the initial consultation is free, it won’t cost you anything to meet with us. In addition, we don’t charge our clients anything until they settle their case. Since your employer will have a team of lawyers at their disposal, you should as well.