What to Do If You Believe You Have Been Misclassified as a Contractor and You Need Worker's Compensation

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If you get hurt on the job, you are entitled to worker's compensation. However, if you are an independent contractor or a freelancer, your "boss" is not required to offer you any worker's compensation. That said, there are rules on classifying workers as employees or independent contractors.

If you believe that you have been misclassified, you should contact a worker's compensation attorney. That professional can help you bring a misclassification case against your attorney, so you can ultimately get the compensation you deserve. The following documents and records can also help make your case:

1. Contracts

If you and the person paying you signed a contract, that can give some insight into the nature of the relationship. For instance, if the contract laid out terms that were very similar to employment terms but stipulated that you were employed as a contractor, that may indicate that the payer should have actually classified you as an employee.

Even if the contract shows that you agreed to work as an independent contractor, that can be overruled. If the other elements in the contract indicate an employee-employer relationship was present, the law related to those classification rules trumps the part of the contract where you agreed to be a contractor.

2. Communication Between You and the Payer

Any written or recorded communication between you and the payer can also help. To be classified as an independent contractor, you need some degree of autonomy over your work. That can be defined in a number of ways, but as a general rule of thumb, independent contractors have liberty over how and when they get a project done.

If the payer was requiring you to work set hours or micromanaging the contract, that information may be in your communication records. That can help the worker's comp attorney make the argument that you were misclassified.

3. Payment Records

Payment records can also help. Depending on the nature of the work, the payer could have paid you a set price for the job, a piecemeal rate (where you receive x amount of money for each task completed), a commission rate (based on sales or other goals), or even an hourly rate like plumbers and many mechanics charge.

Although the payment structure doesn't necessarily indicate whether you are a freelancer or an employee, it can also help to build the case. Notes from the payer on the payment records can be especially helpful.

In some cases, it can be hard to tell, but your instincts can guide you in the right direction. Ask yourself if the person paying you felt more like a boss than a client. If you answered "boss", you may have been misclassified, and you should contact local workers' compensation lawyers as soon as you can.