If you do work on a per-project or “odd job” basis, you are part of a growing trend in the American workforce. According to Time, there are 53 million freelance workers in the U.S.
Rather than working as employees of a single employer, these workers take on contract jobs as freelancers and independent contractors.
Now that freelancers make up more than one-third of the entire American workforce, they have even changed how the nation’s economy works. Economists have given the shift toward short-term, temporary jobs a name: the gig economy.
A growing number of workers are doing work this way, but what does it mean for typical employment benefits, such as health care, vacation time, and workers’ compensation?
If you have been injured on the job as a freelance worker or independent contractor, you should speak with a West Palm Beach workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your rights and options.
Can Independent Contractors Get Workers’ Compensation?
Just because you work as an independent contractor doesn’t mean you can’t get hurt on the job. If you work as a freelancer or independent contractor, however, you will most likely have to foot the bill for your injuries.
Under Florida law, independent contractors are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
The Florida workers’ compensation statute clearly defines which types of workers are employees and which workers are independent contractors.
The statute also lists several factors that determine whether a worker should be classified as an employee versus an independent contractor.
Some of the factors that indicate a worker is an independent contractor include:
- The worker maintains a separate business at his or her own work facility
- The worker performs work for many entities
- The worker receives compensation at the completion of set tasks
- The worker receives payment through a business entity rather than as an individual
- The worker is responsible for the satisfactory completion of the work
- The worker himself or herself can see a profit or a loss in connection with performing work or services
There are many other factors that indicate a worker is an independent contractor rather than an employee. Before beginning any job, it’s important to know whether you will be working as an employee or an independent contractor.
In some cases, employers misclassify their workers as independent contractors in an attempt to avoid providing benefits, such as workers’ compensation insurance.
Recently, companies like Uber and Lyft have faced class action lawsuits brought by drivers who claim they were misclassified as independent contractors.
If you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, you may be able to file a lawsuit for the wages, unpaid overtime compensation, and other benefits you should have received as an employee.
Read about unique rules for contractors and sub-contractors who work on construction sites.
Other Options for Compensation
Although your status as an independent contractor may preclude you from filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you may still be able to file a claim if you were injured due to a third party’s negligence.
If you can prove that a third party is responsible for your injuries, you may be able to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Learn More : Third-Party Lawsuits for On-The-Job Injuries
In cases where an independent contractor is killed due to a third party’s negligence, the independent contractor’s family members may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Contact a West Palm Beach Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Learn More
Working as an independent contractor offers many advantages, such as more flexibility and greater autonomy over your work. On the other hand, there are significant drawbacks, including a lack of benefits commonly found in traditional employment.
If you have been injured while performing work as a freelancer or independent contractor, don’t assume you aren’t entitled to compensation.
Only a West Palm Beach workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand your rights.