Let's say you show up to work at your construction job every day and work carefully alongside your colleagues - who are painters, carpenters and roofers. It looks like you're all employees together, and the same boss pays your salary. The thing is, you're classified as an "independent contractor," but coworkers are "employees."
As a result, when you fell off a scaffold and broke your leg, your employer and its insurance company tried to use the fact that you're an independent contractor as a reason not to pay for your medical care.
You've been at home recovering for the last month, unable to work and unable earn an income, and your financial situation is tight. Is there anything you can do to get workers' compensation benefits?
Contractors and the Wisconsin Worker's Compensation Act
The answer to this question largely depends on whether you're truly an independent contractor or not. In some cases, insurance firms will try to classify you as an independent contractor to avoid paying the workers' compensation benefits you deserve.
Under the Wisconsin Workers' Compensation Act, "employees" eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits have a very precise definition. If you are currently working under the category of independent contractor, for example, it's possible that a misclassification has occurred. It's also possible that you could assert legal arguments to prove that you are an "employee" so you can receive workers' compensation coverage.
The Wisconsin Workers' Compensation Act dictates that a worker must pass a nine-part test before an insurance company can claim him or her as an "independent contractor" and deny workers' compensation benefits. If any of the following nine factors are not true for a worker, then he or she might not be an independent contractor:
- Works as a separate business
- Has filed for self-employment or business income with the IRS the previous year for the same type of work performed, or possesses a Federal Employer Identification Number
- Works under a contract
- Must pay for his or her own operating expenses as per the contract
- Holds responsibility for work completed as per the contract
- Holds responsibility for job performance as per the contract
- Receives payment based on the contract, by the job, on commission or via a competitive bid
- May experience loss and profits through the course of performing work as per the contract
- Needs to pay for business expenses, liabilities and obligations
- If costs surpass income, the worker could succeed or fail in his or her business
Were you denied workers' benefits due to a misclassification?
It's not uncommon for a Wisconsin employee to suffer from a misclassification of employment status. If you want to know if an inappropriate denial of workers' compensation benefits occurred due to an independent contractor misclassification, contact an experienced workers' compensation benefits lawyer. You might be able to assert your legal rights in court and seek the benefits you need.