How To Fight A Denial Of Workers’ Compensation Benefits- Independent Contractors

First, a true “independent contractor” may not be entitled to Mississippi Workers’ Compensation benefits.  However, many times your employer is wrong and you can successfully fight a denial of your comp benefits based on a claim of independent contractor.  One of the most common situations we see at Rundlett Law Firm involving alleged independent contractor situations is with truck drivers.

If a truck driver or other alleged independent contractor is hurt while on the job a detailed legal analysis is probably needed to determine if they qualify for coverage under a Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Insurance policy.  Even if the worker signed a document that says they are an “independent contractor” they may still qualify for benefits.  A skilled, Mississippi workers’ comp attorney can help.

How The Courts Analyze an Independent Contractor vs. Employee Determination

The following are the facts that the court will weigh in making a determination.  First, was the worker engaged with the same employer for multiple jobs on a consistent basis, or was the job a one time occurrence?  Next, did the hiring business provide any financing or equipment for the job?  For instance, did the company provide the truck, or did the injured worker own his own truck?  Next, the court will look to the level of  supervision the business had over the particular job.  Did the company install a GPS tracker on the truck to monitor activities of the driver?  Did the company provide any liability insurance for the job?  Did the worker hold himself out as a completely separate business?  How much skill was required for the particular job the worker was hired to perform?  The analysis basically comes down to how much control the business had over the job the worker was hired to do.  The more control, the more chances the employer will have to provide coverage for a job injury.

Another similar analysis used by the courts is called the “Relative Nature of the Work Doctrine”.  Under this analysis, the courts try to answer the following questions:  1.  Was the work a large part of the employer’s business, or was it just a one time need?  2.  Was the work a regular part of the employer’s business? 3.  Does the worker rely on the employee for business?

The courts will make a determination on contractor vs. employee by looking at substance over form using the above.  So it really does not matter if a worker signed a document that says “independent contractor” if the facts don’t back it up.  If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck….it’s a duck.

Kevin

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill