Can an Independent Contractor Get Workers Compensation in Massachusetts?
Under Massachusetts’ wage and workers’ compensation laws, a presumption exists that a work arrangement creates an employer-employee relationship. The party receiving the services has the burden of rebutting this legal presumption. The employer must demonstrate that the worker was free from the employer’s direction and control, the service provided was outside the employer’s normal course of business, and that the worker customarily performed these same services on a contractual basis for other companies. If a worker is an independent contractor, they are not entitled to worker’s compensation benefits.
At the Law Office of John J. Sheehan, we understand the challenges facing an independent contractor injured on the job. Our team will fight for your rights, whether it is contesting your employments status, negotiating with an insurance provider, or filing a personal injury claim.
Our dedicated team of Boston personal injury lawyers handle worker’s compensation claims and personal injury claims. You might have more options than you realize if you have been hurt while on the job. To discuss your case, call (617) 925-6407 today.
Are You an Employee or Independent Contractor in Massachusetts?
While it might seem apparent, the first thing to determine if you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts is whether you are an independent contractor or an actual employee. Employers benefit from hiring independent contractors, including not being required to provide health benefits, pay overtime, or carry workers’ compensation insurance. Because of these savings, some employees are misclassified.
In Massachusetts, a three-factors are considered to determine if a worker is an employee: behavioral control, financial control, and type of relationship.
You could be considered an employee if your employer exercises behavioral control over your work. For example, if your employer gives specific instructions on when and how to conduct your work, where you should purchase supplies, what tools you should use, or what service providers to utilize, it could be construed as behavioral control. Behavioral control is typically present when an employer dictates how and when work is completed.
To ascertain if an employer has financial control, our Somerville workers’ compensation attorney will look at how a worker is paid. For example, are you paid at a flat rate, do you provide the same service to other entities, are you invested with the employer, or do you realize your own profits and loss?
Type of Relationship
The “type of relationship” test is sort of a catch-all provision used to determine a worker’s status. According to guidelines promulgated by the Massachusetts Attorney General, the presence of a permanent relationship and employee-type benefits could constitute employee status. However, a written contract between the employer and the worker or if the service provided is not integral to the principal business might indicate that the worker is an independent contractor.
Options an Independent Contract Has if Injured in a Massachusetts Work-Related Accident
Unfortunately, independent contractors also suffer injuries in the course of their employment. Unlike employees, they are not entitled to financial compensation through a workers’ compensation claim. Nonetheless, independent contractors have legal rights and options. The first thing to do is contact our experienced Cambridge personal injury attorneys.
Contest Your Employment Classification
While you might believe you are an independent contractor, that might not be the case. Businesses in Massachusetts financially benefit from labeling legitimate employees as independent contractors. In addition to avoiding paying overtime or health benefits, an employer could avoid liability for work-related injuries. The first thing our office would do is evaluate your relationship with your employer to determine if you meet the requirements for “employee” rather than “independent contractor.”
File a Personal Injury Claim
If someone is injured while working, workers’ compensation laws typically prohibit them from filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. This prohibition does not hinder independent contractors. If you were injured because of an employer’s negligence or a failure to provide adequate safety measures, you could file a personal injury claim to recover your damages.
There are some advantages and disadvantages to filing a lawsuit against the employer. Unlike a workers’ comp claim, you will have to prove that the employer was negligent. Our Wakefield personal injury lawyers will have to establish four elements: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Proving these four elements is much more challenging than demonstrating that you were just hurt in the course of your employment – which is the threshold for a workers’ compensation claim. Furthermore, if you are successful, you will have to wait longer before receiving any financial compensation through a personal injury claim.
However, there are some benefits when suing for damages. Workers’ compensation covers a portion of an injured employee’s medical bills and lost wages. Through a personal injury claim, you are entitled to seek your full damages, including all your medical expenses and the full amount of your lost wages. Lost wages are not limited to the time you have missed. If you return to work in a limited capacity or are unable to work again, you could be compensated for your lost earnings as well. In addition to your monetary losses, you could also recover for more subjective damages, such as pain and suffering. These types of intangible damages are not available in a workers’ compensation claim.
Our Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Professional Legal Representation in Cases of Work-Related Injuries
A work-related injury could be devastating. Many independent contractors believe they have no recourse under Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws. While you might be prohibited from filing a workers’ comp claim, you still have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. Some injured workers could also challenge their classification as independent contractors. The experience Malden personal Injury lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan are available to help you. Call (617) 925-6407 today.