Can I apply for workers’ compensation as an independent contractor?
It happens for an assortment of reasons. Some employers hire staff and require them to sign agreements designating themselves as independent contractors. In addition to signing these documents, these staff members forego tax deductions and receive 1099 tax forms annually. Are independent contractors also exempt from workers’ compensation benefits?
Independent Contractor Designation
Believe it or not, the fact that you signed off as an independent contractor does not mean you are obligated to forego workers’ compensation benefits. If you were injured while working for someone else, the courts have applied tests to determine your eligibility. Under New Jersey law, you may still be considered an employee for purposes of workers’ compensation.
The prevailing case that discusses this designation is Kertesz v. Korsh, 296 N.J. Super. 146 (App. Div. 1996). In short, Kertesz suggests that the relationship between the employer and the injured party should be reviewed from the perspective of control. If your employer gives you specific directions on completing tasks, controls when they must be done and has other requirements, you may be considered an employee.
The Kertesz case also brought up another way of determining the employee relationship. It is known as the “relative nature of work test”. This test evaluates the employer’s business model as a whole, as well as the individual’s role in the company. It then determines how much the employee is reliant on the particular company for income purposes.
Who Determines Eligibility
Even if you are signed off as an independent contractor, you should inform your employer of any work-related injuries. You should insist on filing a formal incident report. If the employer states that you are not entitled to benefits because of your status, do not become engaged in a confrontation. Request that the employer provide you with information concerning their workers’ compensation carrier. You can then make the call yourself. In many instances, the insurance company will acknowledge their obligation to provide you with benefits.
Our office has handled workers’ compensation claims for more than two decades. Whether you believe you are an independent contractor or not, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone can assist you. Call us now to arrange a complimentary appointment.