Under California law, the workers’ compensation code is essentially the exclusive way for injured workers to seek damages against an employer for injuries suffered in the course of one’s employment. Indeed, there are limited exceptions that allow injured workers to brink negligence claims against employers, but there are a number of instances where employers attempt shirk their responsibilities and avoid paying claims.
One of the classic (yet unfortunate) ways this happens is when an employer claims that their workers are independent contractors as opposed to employees. Basically, if a worker is an independent contractor, he or she must carry their own liability insurance to compensate for injuries that may occur while carrying out their duties. Conversely, if a worker is classified as an employee, the employer is responsible for evaluating and paying out a workers’ comp claim.
The question of whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor is not always easy to determine. There are a number of factors involved, including whether the workers bring their own materials to complete the job, how much control the employer has over the workers, whether the workers have a vested financial interest in the job and whether the employer determines how long the workers actually work each day, to name a few.
Part of a workers’ compensation attorney’s job is evaluating the nature of the employment to determine whether a worker should be covered as an employee. If you have been injured and need to know your rights and options under California law, a skilled lawyer can assist you.