Can an Independent Contractor File for Workers’ Compensation?

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Kentucky employers may pay both employers and independent contractors to do the same job. But there are important legal differences between the two when it comes to laws and legal rights.

Employees are protected by minimum wage, overtime, and hour laws at both state and federal levels. And when an employee is injured at work, they are entitled to file for workers’ compensation benefits to make up for lost wages and pay for medical bills.

But are hired subcontractors entitled to the same benefits?

What Is an Independent Contractor?

Whether an employee is considered an “employee” or a hired “independent contractor” is critical when determining whether the individual is eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Now, making this determination is less about their title and more about the circumstances surrounding their work. Here are some examples that can help determine which category the worker falls under according to the law:

  • Direction and Control. Employees are usually given explicit directions and have little control over the actual nature of their job, whereas independent contractors have a method of accomplishing their job and do not need directions.

  • Hiring and Pay. Employees are usually formally hired after an interview, receive regular paychecks, and work an hourly or salaried job. Independent contractors don’t have to go through a hiring process and usually get paid immediately after a job.

  • Equipment Provided. Employees are provided with all tools and supplies and may have their expenses reimbursed, whereas an independent contractor typically provides all the equipment needed to do a job.

  • Character of Work and Training. Independent contractors usually perform one specific job and work at many different companies.

  • Professional Skill of the Worker. Independent contractors are usually skilled at one particular job that they were hired to do.

  • Written Agreements. While contracts and written agreements can be looked at, simply putting in writing that a worker is an independent contractor is not enough to prove so.

Once all of these factors have been detailed, it can be much easier for a workers’ compensation attorney to show whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor.

Are They Covered Under Workers’ Comp?

“True” independent contractors are not covered under workers’ compensation laws in Kentucky. Therefore, they would not be able to pursue these benefits.

Some employers may classify an employer as an independent contractor to get out of paying taxes. And if the worker is injured at work, the employer may try to deny that the worker was an employee and may not pursue benefits.

However, evidence may show that the worker was, in fact, an employee under the law and not an independent contractor. Therefore, some workers who are “classified” as independent contractors may still be entitled to pursue workers’ compensation benefits.

What Happens if My Claim is Denied?

Insurance companies will do anything they can do deny paying workers’ comp claims. They may try to misclassify you as an independent contractor and claim that you are not eligible for benefits.

In these situations, it’s imperative to hire a workers’ compensation attorney who can help you file an appeal and look at the details of your case and guide you to the best possible outcome.

Additionally, if you suffered an injury in a work accident as an independent contractor, you may be able to pursue compensation by filing a third-party injury claim against any negligent parties.


Contact Justice Law Office at (502) 822-2230 to discuss your legal options with our Louisville workers’ compensation attorneys.
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