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When dealing with a work injury, whether a worker is classified as an employee or independent contractor can seriously impact their entitlement to medical compensation. Let’s find out the difference between these two worker classifications and why you should always work with a South Carolina personal injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

Worker Classification: Independent Contractors vs. Employees

The relationship between worker and business determines whether the worker is considered an independent contractor or an employee.

Definition and Characteristics of Independent Contractors

Control Over Work

Does the business control how the worker works or how the work gets done? An independent contractor provides a service to a business as a non-employee. They work independently without supervision by the company.

Financial Control

Does the company dictate the business and financial aspects of the worker’s job? How is the worker paid? Employees get a monthly salary, while independent contractors get paid after service delivery.

Provision of Tools and Equipment

Does the worker bring their own tools, or does the company provide them? Typically, an independent contractor owns their own tools. The payer often reimburses contractors for expenses they incur when working.

Duration of the Relationship

How long is the working relationship? Usually, independent contractors work only up to the agreed-upon time or when they complete their service. Employees sign employment contracts that bind them to the company for extended periods.

Definition and Characteristics of Employees

Control and Supervision by Employer

Employees are subject to the control and supervision of their employers, who dictate the details of their work.

Regular Wages and Benefits

Employees receive regular wages, benefits, and possibly bonuses as part of their compensation package.

Use of Company Equipment

Employees usually use company-provided equipment and resources to carry out their tasks.

Indefinite Employment Relationship

Employee-employer relationships are open-ended and may continue indefinitely.

If you have any questions about how your role is categorized, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in South Carolina for assistance.

Legal Implications of Worker Misclassification

Treating an employee as an independent contractor to avoid providing benefits or workers’ compensation can lead to legal actions and financial penalties. The following statutes regulate employer behavior when classifying workers:

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

This Act has two major requirements for employers:

  1. Employers must pay minimum wage to their employees.
  2. Employers must adhere to overtime rates for employees.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a set of laws offering injured workers medical care and compensation on a no-fault basis. Misclassifying your employees as independent contractors to avoid paying worker’s compensation is a violation of South Carolina law.

Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)

The IRCA mandates that employers must fill out Forms I-9 for employees hired on or after November 7, 1986, as legal documentation to work in the U.S. Misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees can lead to violations under the IRCA. Here, misclassification can include not completing Forms I-9 and potentially employing individuals ineligible to work in the U.S.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

According to the FMLA, employers must grant employees leave for family and medical circumstances. The employer must also reinstate the worker to the same position or one of equivalent status.

Beyond these statutes, an employer may face civil lawsuits for misclassifying workers. They may also be in trouble with the IRS for failing to meet IRS obligations.

Employer Liability in Employee Personal Injury Claims

  • Workers’ Compensation Coverage. Employees are typically covered by workers’ compensation, which provides medical benefits and lost wages for job-related injuries. However, workers’ comp coverage may be denied in case of intentional harm or gross negligence by employers. These might warrant pursuing additional claims.
  • Third-Party Liability Claims. If a third party causes the injury, the employee can pursue legal action against them in addition to workers’ compensation.

Personal Injury Claims for Independent Contractors

Independent contractors lack workers’ compensation benefits, making personal injury claims more complex. These complicated scenarios require the help of an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney, because independent contractors may have limited grounds to sue the hiring entity for any injury incurred during the contracted work. A lawyer can help explore legal options.

Contact Joye Law Firm Today

Navigating personal injury claims, especially within the worker classification framework, demands legal assistance. An experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney from Joye Law Firm will offer guidance, representation, and a thorough understanding of South Carolina law to protect your rights.

Don’t leave your benefits and compensation to chance. Gain the insights you need today. Contact us now for a free case evaluation.

About the Author

Since 1968, the South Carolina personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys of Joye Law Firm have been committed to securing compensation for accident and injury victims. Our compassionate and dedicated lawyers have over 300 years of combined litigation experience, and many of them have been recognized as South Carolina Super Lawyers. For many years, our South Carolina personal injury law firm has been listed with an AV rating in the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell legal directory.

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