As more and more workers – especially those in California – do not work as employees but rather as independent contractors, a question arises over whether an independent contractor can sue for financial recovery in a workplace injury. Talk to an experienced workplace injury attorney to learn the specifics of how the law will treat your situation, but below are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
Workers Compensation and “Independent Contractors”
For those who are employees who are hurt on the job, California laws directs those individuals to seek any benefits or compensation they are owed from their employer solely through the workers’ compensation system. The benefit of this system to workers is that they do not have to prove that the employer or other workers were at fault in order to obtain benefits. The downside to workers, however, is that injured employers are generally limited to obtaining medical benefits and disability payments that are less than their regular wages. They cannot recover pain and suffering damages, full payment of lost income, or punitive damages through a negligence suit.
What this means for independent contractors is that they cannot obtain benefits through the workers’ compensation system but they are also not prevented from bringing a negligence suit against the entity for whom they are working. An important point to note, however, is that an individual referred to as an “independent contractor” may nonetheless be considered an employee under the law if the provider of work treated that person as such, e.g. by dictating his or work schedule, directing the manner of work, and paying an hourly wage. Thus, an independent contract may bring a workers’ compensation if they are indeed an employee in the eyes of the law.
Bringing a Negligence Suit as an Independent Contractor
If an individual is actually an independent contractor, then that person will likely need to bring a negligence case in order to recover for a workplace injury. Doing so, again, will require a showing that another party did in fact negligently – meaning it failed to act reasonably and you were foreseeably injured as a result – or that the injury occurred as a result of use of a defective product (in which case the manufacturer of the product could be liable). Other parties may be liable as well if their negligence injured you, such as another vehicle operator, a fellow independent contractor, or any third party present at fault for your injuries. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about liability in your situation.
Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys in the Inland Empire
At McCune Wright Arevalo, our personal injury team – led by by partner Cory Weck, a Marine Corps officer with over 20 years of service to his country and 15 years of experience litigating personal injury cases – has repeatedly won verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients across the Inland Empire in the millions of dollars. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys to determine whether you may have a civil claim for a workplace injury.