The recent news of circus performers being traumatically injured during a performance brings to light the serious workplace injuries that can be sustained by entertainers and performers.
According to news reports, almost a dozen circus performers were injured when the metal-framed truss apparatus they were hanging from broke unexpectedly, causing the performers to fall approximately 25-35 feet to the ground below. The performers sustained critical injuries, including broken bones, head injuries and other internal injuries.
In another recent accident, a performer fell after a wire suspension rope broke, causing the performer to fall almost 95 feet to the floor below. Reports indicate that the performer died from multiple blunt force trauma.
Entertainer and Live Performer Work Injuries
According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the State of Florida has the highest employment level for entertainers and performers. BLS also ranks the metropolitan area of Orlando, Kissimmee, and Sanford second in the nation for the ratio of performers and entertainers per capita.
The entertainment and live performance category can encompass a large number of jobs, including actors, musicians, artists, craftspeople, park attendants, and technicians, among others.
Entertainers and live performers sustain injuries similar to those experienced by workers in other industries. The most common types of injuries include:
– Falls from elevation: falls from ladders, platforms, scaffolding or other elevated surfaces;
– Falls at same level: slips, trips, and falls on flat surfaces;
– Struck by/against something: hitting a part of the body against something or being hit by a moving or flying object. Can also include noise as noise impacts the ear drum;
– Caught in/under/between: the body or part of it is squeezed, pinched or crushed by some workplace object;
– Motor vehicle accidents: including golf carts, forklifts, and other motorized and driven vehicles; and
– Musculoskeletal injuries: due to overuse, body malalignment, or repetitive motion.
However, entertainers and live performers often face special situations at work because they may work in costumes that obstruct their view. They may also work in low lighting conditions, which can make it more difficult to identify potential hazards.
Workers’ Compensation For Entertainers And Live Performers
Florida workers’ compensation law generally requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees against workplace injuries.
One problem that sometimes comes up regarding entertainers and live performers is whether they are an “employee” or an “independent contractor” for purposes of receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Some businesses will misclassify a worker in order to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits. However, a worker’s status as an employee or an independent contractor is not based solely on the title given to the worker. Rather, employee status is determined by Florida statutes and by the facts surrounding the work experience.
For example, bands, orchestras, and musical and theater performers are considered independent contractors if there is a written contract entered into before the performances begin.
However, where there is no written contract, the circumstances surrounding the work relationship are taken into consideration. These factors include:
– The amount of control the worker has over performing the services or work;
– Whether the worker incurs expenses related to the work being performed;
– Whether the worker is paid by the job or on an hourly/salary basis; and
– Whether the worker experiences profits/losses or other potential liabilities/obligations as part of the work being performed.
Contact Workers Compensation Attorneys
If you have been injured and you are an entertainer, live performer, or work in the live performance industry, please call the law offices of Scott J. Sternberg & Associates, P.A.. We have years of experience representing injured workers in the Orlando, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach areas. Please call us today at (561) 687-5660 for a free consultation.