One of the key factual issues in many workers’ compensation cases is whether the claimant is properly classified as an employee or as an independent contractor. The question is significant because independent contractors are not eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits. This means that in many cases employers seeking to minimize costs will attempt to characterize an employee as an independent contractor. However, the employer’s designation is not the final word on the matter. This determination is made on the basis of the actual facts of the arrangement between the parties, not on the basis of a formal designation.
Why does it matter?
For someone injured on the job, the question of whether they are classified as an employee or an independent contractor is crucial. Independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits by law. Furthermore, employees who receive workers’ compensation benefits are not eligible for tort remedies against the same employer, though they may proceed in a separate civil action against another at-fault party if the workers’ compensation payment does not fully cover their damages.
For purposes of workers’ compensation benefits, Georgia statutes establishes specific requirements to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Under these requirements a person is only an independent contractor if they meet each of the following criteria:
- They are a party to a contract intended to create an independent contractor relationship;
- They have the right to exercise control over the time, manner, and method of the work to be performed; and
- They are paid on a set price per job or per unit basis, not on a salary or hourly wage basis.
As the above list indicates, the key issues are the intent of the parties, control over the details of the work, and the method of compensation. This means, in short, that the inquiry focuses on the facts and economic realities of the arrangement, not on the employer’s formal designation. An employer seeking to avoid workers’ compensation liability to an injured worker must show that the arrangement functioned as an independent contractor in fact, not just in name.
Consult a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If your employer is opposing your workers’ compensation claim by claiming that you are an independent contractor, you may still be eligible for benefits. Just because they classify you as an independent contractor does not mean that you actually are one. Contact the attorneys at The Bader Law Firm for a free consultation. We have the skill and the experience to assess the facts and make the best case possible for you. Don’t lose out on your claim just because your employer tries to misclassify you. Get help today so you aren’t taken advantage of.