Understanding the Independent Contractor Status in Florida Workers Comp

If you were injured while performing work-related activities, you should consult with a Fort Lauderdale workers comp lawyer to determine if you are eligible to file a claim for benefits. One of the first things the attorney will check is whether you are an employee or an independent contractor.

This is the first hurdle to overcome in your path towards benefits because, as an independent contractor, you are not covered by the workers comp system.

The Status of Independent Contractors As Per Florida Workers Compensation Law

The workers compensation system exists to compensate injured workers for their medical care costs and lost wages. It came as a necessity to avoid an endless number of personal injury lawsuits, which would cripple both employers and the civil court system.

However, this system offers protection only to employees. Florida workers compensation law states clearly that the term employee does not include “an independent contractor who is not engaged in the construction industry.”

Let us discuss first the special status that independent workers in the construction field enjoy.

Construction Workers Are Covered by Workers Comp Irrespective of Their Status

Many construction workers are hired as independent contractors on a per-project basis. They are rarely permanent employees of the company. Florida legislators introduced a special clause in the workers comp law, stating that they have the right to receive benefits after a workplace accident.

However, this special status does not cover any independent contractor hired by a homeowner to build, remodel or develop structures on their private property, if the resulting structure is not meant to be sold, leased or rented within 1 year.

Therefore, before accepting a job, independent contractors in the construction field should be aware of the scope of the project and status of the employer (business or individual).

only employees are covered by the workers comp system

How Are Independent Contractors Defined by Florida Law?

When they consult with a Fort Lauderdale workers comp lawyer, some injured workers are not aware that their status is that of independent contractor. They genuinely believed that they were employees.

We will discuss the misleading classification of workers by employers a little later in this article. For now, let us explain how Florida workers comp law defines independent contractors.

The six criteria stipulated in the text of the law are:

  • The independent contractor has a separate business with their own premises, tools and equipment
  • They have applied for a federal employer identification number or is a sole proprietor (in this case the EIN is not required)
  • The independent contractor receives compensation payable to a business, not an individual
  • The independent contractor has one or several bank accounts in the name of the business specifically for paying expenses related to their business activities
  • The independent contractor can perform work for any entity without going through an employment application process
  • The independent contractor receives compensation based on a contractual agreement

What If Your Employer Misclassifies You as an Independent Contractor?

As we noted above, some employers purposely misclassify workers as independent contractors in order to avoid purchasing workers comp insurance. In this situation, you must talk to an experienced workers comp attorney. Legal professionals can challenge your employment classification in court.

By making reference to the IRS 20 factor test the lawyer can prove that you are actually an employee of the company and thus have the right to file a workers comp claim

The industries where employees are most often misclassified as independent contractors are:

  • Delivery and courier services
  • Maintenance crews
  • Hospitality staff
  • Hair and nail salons
  • Healthcare, including nurses and home care staff
  • Retail vendors/ stocking workers
  • Food production

Let a Fort Lauderdale Workers Comp Lawyer Protect Your Rights!

As an independent contractor, you generally don’t have the right to file a workers compensation claim. But it is quite possible that you were misclassified without your knowledge or approval. This is why you should discuss your situation with an experienced Fort Lauderdale workers comp attorney, even if your employer says that you are not eligible to file a claim.

At Work Injury Rights you will find a team of dedicated attorneys with over 45 years of combined experience solely dedicated to protected workers rights. We offer each new client a free case review, so reach out to us at 954-324-COMP!

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