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As an independent contractor, can I get workers' compensation?

Because only employees are eligible for benefits like medical coverage and payment for lost wages, it is always important to understand how your job classifies you. In the eyes of the law, independent contractors are not employees, and therefore, are not eligible to receive workers' compensation after suffering a work injury.

What is especially troubling is that some Iowa employers may treat independent contractors the same way they treat official employees. Worsening the problem, some employers may misclassify workers as independent contractors simply because it is in the company's best interests. For example, some independent contractors find themselves working in precisely the same way other employees work, but without the benefits.

This behavior is advantageous to businesses because they do not have to provide workers' compensation insurance coverage for independent contractors. In turn, this means injured contractors must pay medical expenses out of pocket. However, with attorney guidance, there may be a way for workers to acquire injury compensation despite their status as independent contractors.

The law does not see the label independent contractor as just a title. For workers to be contractors, they must work independently, as the title suggests. This means that if an employer exercises a significant amount of control over workers, the workers in question may actually be employees. Examples of such control are listed below.

  • Providing workers with company uniforms
  • Not requiring workers to provide their own equipment
  • Creating the worker's duty schedule
  • Providing workers with company vehicles, tools and other items

As an independent contractor, you already know that an on-the-job injury can have a negative effect on your income and your physical well-being. A good next step is to find out if you truly are an independent contractor or if you have been misclassified. If you can prove to the court that you are an employee, you may be able to get the injury compensation you deserve.

Source: FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog, "Can Independent Contractors Get Workers' Comp?," Daniel Taylor, accessed April 11, 2018

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