Is an “Independent Contractor” Always an Independent Contractor?
October 13, 2017
It is a very popular trend these days for companies to hire workers as “independent contractors.” Independent contractors are typically self employed and provide services to others on a freelance basis. Legally, independent contractors are not considered “employees” of the people or companies for whom they perform their work.
Companies believe independent contractors provide the best of both worlds: talented workers without the costs and responsibilities that come with employees. Independent contractors are not “employees,” so laws that protect or benefit employees typically do not apply to them. For example, independent contractors are not subject to minimum wage restrictions. Independent contractors are also not covered under Texas Worker’s Compensation laws. Therefore, if you are injured on the job, your legal rights will be greatly affected by your status as either an employee or an independent contractor.
If you are an employee:
Many Texas employers carry workers’ compensation insurance, but some do not. If you are an injured employee covered by workers’ compensation insurance, your only remedy is to file a workers’ compensation claim. Texas workers’ compensation laws contain a trade-off. Worker’s compensation insurance pays for your injury regardless of fault. However, worker’s compensation laws protect employers from lawsuits and limit the amount you can recover
If you are an independent contractor:
If you are an independent contractor, you are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Your remedy is to file a lawsuit directly against the employer. This allows you to recover all of your damages.
How do you know whether you are an independent contractor?
This status is surprisingly difficult to determine. The mere fact that you have been hired as an “independent contractor” does not always mean that you are legally considered as such. Classification as an employee or an independent contractor depends on which party has the right to control the progress, details, and performance of the work. Courts consider several factors in determining status as an employee or an independent contractor, including:
(1) the independent nature of the worker’s business;
(2) the worker’s obligation to furnish necessary tools, supplies, and material to perform the job;
(3) the worker’s right to control progress of the work, except as to final results;
(4) the time for which the worker is employed; and
(5) the method of payment, whether by time or by the job.
Regardless of how a company has decided to classify you, it is the above factors that determine whether you are an independent contractor. This classification greatly affects your ability to recover for a workplace injury. The weighing of these factors is a delicate balance that requires detailed knowledge of Texas injury law. If you have been injured on the job, you need the help of an experienced Texas personal injury attorney.