North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Quiz: Are You an Independent Contractor or an Employee?

November 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been hurt in a workplace injury in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, the last thing you want to do is to parse technical lingo about your employment status:

•    What exactly was your working status at your job, when you got injured?
•    Were you an independent contractor?
•    Were you an employee?
•    Were you en route to work (and therefore ìat workî); or were you sufficiently engaged in non-work related activities so as to be ineligible to be considered ìat workî?

These nuances may sound irrelevant or even just boring to think about. But they can mean the difference between your being able to collect thousands of dollars every month in benefits and your being able to collect zilch.

The answers differ from case-to-case. For instance, say you work construction jobs. You recently did subcontracting work on a new architectural project in Charlotte. You and two coworkers slipped on a misplaced rivet on Day Two of the job. You wrenched your back and tore a ligament in your ankle. You went to the doctor and got a lousy prognosis: you can’t work for at least six months, if not a year.

So: will you be eligible to collect workers’ comp during your time off?

The answer may hinge on your employment status. Were you just a “worker for hire” at that job – an independent contractor – or were you an employee? Factors that could determine that status might include:

•    Subtle elements in your contract;
•    The kind of work you were doing;
•    How you were doing the work;
•    Who was supervising you;
•    Et cetera.

In one scenario, you might be considered an independent contractor, in which case, you might not ever collect workers’ comp benefits. In another scenario — only ever so slightly different — you might qualify to be considered an employee and get the sought-after benefits.

This would all be confusing enough, if everyone agreed on the precise definitions of relevant terms. But gray areas abound in workers’ comp law, and you may need to fight vigorously to be classified the right way to receive fair compensation.

The experienced, empathetic, knowledgeable team at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo can guide you to make smarter decisions, even if your case is complicated and full of subtleties like the ones discussed above. Get in touch with our team today to find out what can be done regarding your situation.