Worker’s Compensation for Independent Contractors

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One of the main reasons that employees and independent contractors are differentiated is because it affects the question of who may receive benefits, such as workers’ compensation. Generally, one must be an employee to be eligible for benefits, but as the economy in the United States changes and evolves, this is no longer as cut and dried a question as it once might have been. You may be entitled to compensation, or at the very least, to redress for injuries you may have suffered.

Case Study: Workers In The Shared Economy

One of the biggest issues in this regard is the status of people working in what experts refer to as the ‘shared economy.’ People who work part-time for many companies, including Uber and Lyft, have become somewhat stuck in the middle as courts decide their status. These individuals are generally seen as independent contractors by such companies, therefore, are not granted the benefits that are offered to full-time employees. However, there are many legal ways in which they are treated more like employees, with a right to workers’ compensation and other benefits. Uber and other similar companies see this lack of benefits as an equivalent exchange, given that independent contractors can generally make their own hours and work as much or little as they please. However, they exercise a degree of control over their workers that independent contractors generally get to avoid.

Even if Uber does manage to succeed in having their workers classified as independent contractors, there are nonetheless precedents for workers’ compensation being provided if someone is harmed by a belligerent passenger or affected by another job-related hazard. Taxi drivers in many cities, such as New York, are eligible for workers’ compensation, and in some cases this can actually save companies money. Under South Carolina law, for example, an employee who accepts workers’ compensation may not attempt to receive further compensation from their employer (though they may sue a third party who played a role in their injuries if need be).

Third Party Claims

If you are denied workers’ compensation and cannot successfully appeal, the other method by which you may be able to obtain some compensation for your harms suffered is via a third party claim. While South Carolina law prevents you from bringing suit against your employer if you attempt to claim workers’ compensation, it does not prevent lawsuits against any non-affiliated third party that played a role in injuries you sustained on the job. If, for example, you were making a delivery for your employer, and an unaffiliated civilian hit your car with theirs, they might be liable for any injuries you suffered.

A Legal Professional Can Help

It can be a very difficult thing to not know where one stands with an employer, but it is becoming more and more commonplace in today’s economy. If you have questions, or if you need help attempting to get the compensation you are owed, a good attorney can make a big difference. The knowledgeable North Charleston workers’ compensation attorneys at Callihan & Syracuse understand how to deal with the different requirements of today’s economy, and will do our best to help you. Contact us today to set up a free initial consultation.