Indiana workers’ compensation laws require employers to provide treatment and financial assistance to workers who are injured on the job. The criteria for receiving benefits aren’t as restrictive as other methods of receiving financial assistance for your injuries, such as through a personal injury case. This means that as long as an employee can prove their injury happened as a result of their job, they will typically be approved for workers’ compensation.
Though these benefits are relatively simple to access for employees of a company, independent contractors are left uncovered by the umbrella of workers’ compensation. When one of these workers is injured during their job, their “employer” has no legal obligation to provide any care or assistance for their injuries.
So what are independent contractors to do when they’re injured due to their employer’s fault? It becomes a little more complicated than simply filing for workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, independent contractors typically need to follow personal injury claims to get the compensation they deserve.
Determining Employment Status
Not all job descriptions necessarily translate into legal status; some employees may actually be independent contractors and some independent contractors are technically employees. Employers may be enticed to misclassify workers as independent contractors to lower their insurance premiums and other associated costs of each employee.
When the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board reviews a claim, they take several identifiers into consideration to determine whether the injured worker was an employee or simply a contractor. These indicators include:
- Whether the worker sets his/her own hours
- Whether the worker is required to supply his/her own tools of the trade
- Whether the worker is allowed to refuse a project assignment
Regardless of what your job description or tax forms say, these criteria may have a deciding factor in a workers’ compensation case. If the Board rules that you’re an independent contractor, however, this is the end of the road for your workers’ compensation claim; you need to file a personal injury claim instead.
Basic Structure of a Personal Injury Claim
As we mentioned earlier, filing a personal injury lawsuit is a little more complicated than a workers’ compensation claim. That’s why an injured worker’s first avenue for recovery is typically through workers’ compensation.
However, independent contractors don’t have that option, which means they will need to step up their evidence to prove two crucial facts about their injury:
- The injury occurred as a direct result of the employer’s negligence.
- The worker is not significantly at fault for their own accident.
Employers are solely responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for all their employees, whether independent contractors or not. If their negligence led to an unsafe condition that caused an injury, the victim deserves compensation for their medical costs.
Though more difficult to file and prove, personal injury lawsuits have a few benefits. First, they allow victims to choose their own medical professional, instead of seeing the “company doctor.” In addition, these claims allow victims to seek additional compensation in the form of pain and suffering.
How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
Whether you’re beginning to file a workers’ compensation claim or wondering if your employment status makes you ineligible to do so, Hensley Legal Group is here for you. Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys will help confirm your employment status and guide you through the process. Best of all, we’ll take care of all the research, communication, and paperwork, so you can focus on healing.
If you’re ready to take action and start seeking compensation for your medical bills today, call us today or contact us online. Your conversation with us is totally free.