Independent contractors are workers whom an employer contracts to perform work for someone else. For example, a roofer may form an agreement with a roofing company to fix the roof of a company client. Under these arrangements, the independent contractor is not technically an employee. Unfortunately, this means if an independent contractor suffers injuries on the job, the employer can avoid paying out workers’ compensation. Instead, an independent contractor may look to alternative routes for compensation.
As a recent news article reported, a paper mill worker suffered from several injuries after falling from a roof in Skowhegan, Maine. Officials believe the person was an independent contractor fixing a piece of equipment on top of the building’s roof. The local fire department assisted with rescuing the person, who was transported to the hospital for multiple injuries. The accident comes on the heels of another subcontractor’s tragic death in the same town. The subcontractor was working at a different mill when he suddenly collapsed.
Can Independent Contractors Recover Workers’ Compensation?
If independent contractors suffer injuries on the job, they generally cannot recover workers’ compensation against the entity that contracted them for the job. Independent contractors must have workers’ compensation insurance for any employees they hire, but independent contractors themselves often do not receive workers’ compensation. Maine law presumes all workers are employees for workers’ compensation purposes. However, employers can escape that presumption by proving their workers are independent contractors who will not receive workers’ compensation for injuries on the job. Unfortunately, this arrangement is all too common. Employers save money by avoiding workers’ compensation insurance and payouts, leaving their workers with no recourse if they suffer injuries that impede their ability to earn a living. However, independent contractors can recover workers’ compensation if they can show the employer misclassified them as independent contractors rather than an employees.