As explained by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) “All California employers must provide workers’ compensation benefits to their employees.” Of course, the key word in that sentence is “employees.” You may be wondering: Can an independent contractor file for workers’ comp benefits in California? In general, the answer is ‘no,’ but an employee who was improperly misclassified as an independent contractor may have rights. Here, our Fresno workers’ comp lawyer highlights the key things independent contractors should know about the options.
Independent Contractors are Not Covered by Workers’ Comp Insurance in California
An independent contractor is not an employee. An individual may be lawfully classified as an independent contractor as long as the relationship between the employer and the person meets certain criteria. Notably, businesses and organizations cannot simply decide who counts as an employee and who counts as an independent contractor. Instead, independent contractor status can only be based on actual work duties/responsibilities. Unfortunately, independent contractors are not covered by workers’ comp in California.
An Independent Contractor Can File a Civil Personal Injury Lawsuit
While an independent contractor is not in a position to file a workers’ compensation claim, he or she can bring a civil personal injury claim. One of the trade-offs of workers’ comp insurance is that injured employees get access to no-fault benefits in exchange for giving up their general legal right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against an employer. As independent contractors are not covered by workers’ comp, they retain the right to file a civil personal injury claim against any negligent party, including the company that hired them.
Note: A personal injury lawsuit is a fault-based legal claim. An independent contractor who files a civil personal injury claim must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused their accident to be eligible to recover financial compensation.
An Employee Misclassified as an Independent Contractor
Beyond a personal injury lawsuit, independent contractor’s hurt in the course of their work have another potential legal remedy available. They may be able to pursue an employment law claim against a company that misclassified them as an independent contractor instead of an employee. Through this type of claim, a number of different remedies may be available, including compensation for unpaid wages, unpaid overtime, and unpaid benefits. If you are an independent contractor who was injured and you believe you were misclassified, you should reach out to an experienced Fresno, CA work injury attorney for immediate legal help.
Call Our California Workers’ Comp Lawyer for Help With Your CaseJoseph C. Yrulegui is a skilled, experienced Fresno workers’ compensation attorney. If you or your loved one was hurt on the job while working as an independent contractor, we are here to help you pursue the full and fair financial benefits that you are owed. Contact us now to learn more about our services. We represent workers throughout the region, including in Fresno County, Tulare County, Kings County, and San Benito County.