When we get a call about someone getting hurt at work, one of the first questions we have to ask is what the person's specific employment status is. As odd as this may sound, many people are unsure about their specific title when it comes to employment. While a person may be employed by a company to produce either items or a service and get paid for it, they may not qualify as an employee by the definition of the law. They may, in all actuality, be marked down by the company they work through as an independent contractor instead. This is a very important distinction when we are talking about workers compensation. An employee is, by definition, someone who only does work for one company at a time. While they may have multiple jobs through different employers, they generally have to travel to each one and receive W-2 tax forms from each as well. An employee will also work the hours that are set by the employer as opposed to setting their own flexible schedule. Many employees are welcomed and even encouraged, to join a union. They are also generally able to apply for benefits that are available through work such as healthcare or retirement plans, and are eligible for unemployment if they are released for certain reasons. An employee is also covered by federal and state laws which set a minimum wage as well as overtime laws. On the other hand, an independent contractor can work for multiple companies at the same time doing specialized work. They often work from a remote location and can work any hours they choose as long as deadlines are met. There are no unions for independent contractors and you cannot receive unemployment if let go. There are also no employment benefits for an independent contractor. There is no legal protection that assures they receive minimum wage, and there is no overtime pay. They also get a different tax document, known as a 1099-MISC. The difference that we are most concerned about is that independent contractors are not eligible for worker’s compensation. While an employee can apply for worker’s compensation benefits if hurt on the job, an independent contractor does not have this option. If they are hurt, the treatment costs fall completely on them and no compensation is to be provided. If you are unsure whether you are an employee or an independent contractor, call Collier and see if we can help you look at the possibility of workers compensation.