One of the first questions a Mississippi work injury attorney will ask a potential client who was injured on the job is: are you an employee or an independent contractor? This is a crucial question because it will determine the legal avenue open to you. If you are an employee, then the attorney will help you file a workers’ compensation claim. If you are an independent contractor, your best choice is to file a personal injury lawsuit for negligence.
However, as any Mississippi work injury attorney will explain to you, when they are faced with a workers compensation claim, many employers conveniently start calling you an independent contractor. This will automatically absolve them from paying for your medical care costs and giving you replacement wages until you are fit to return to work. But this is not the end of the road. In fact, on many occasions, an experienced lawyer found that an employee was incorrectly classified as an independent contractor. Thus, they pursued the claim and managed to win the benefits the injured worker deserved.
What Does Mississippi Workers Comp Law Say About Independent Contractors’ Rights?
The law is very clear on this issue. According to Mississippi’s Workers Compensation Commission, independent contractors are not eligible to collect workers comp benefits. However, an independent contractor’s own employees are covered by this scheme.
This appears unfair, but the concept of an independent contractor means that you are not under an employer’s control. They cannot dictate how you perform your job, thus, they are not eligible if you suffer an injury in the course of performing your tasks.
Nonetheless, some employers abuse the term “independent contractor”. Fortunately, there is a way of finding out what your employment status truly is.
A Mississippi Work Injury Attorney Will Apply the IRS 20-Factor Test
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the top authority competent to determine if someone is an employee or an independent contractor. The federal agency has a detailed test containing no less than 20 factors that determine a person’s employment status.
Out of all of them, these are the most relevant:
1. Whether You Have to Follow Instructions
A Mississippi work injury lawyer will want to know how exactly you perform your daily duties. Are you given an objective and left to determine how you reach it? Or do you have to perform your tasks in a specific manner, indicated by your employer?
If you have to follow instructions, then you are reasonably under an employer’s control. Thus, you are not an independent contractor, but an employee. In this case, your employer is obliged to allow you to file your workers compensation claim and analyze it.
2. Whether You Received Job Training
An independent contractor does not receive training from individuals or companies hiring them to supply services. They are deemed to be professionals who know how to do the respective task.
If you are sent to job trainings in the course of your employment, then you are most likely an employee. For this reason, when you arrive for your free case review with a Mississippi work injury attorney, you should bring with you any proofs of job trainings, including courseware and certifications that you obtained at the end of these trainings.
3. Whether You Use Your Own Tools and Equipment
Do you have to use your personal tools to perform your job duties or are they provided by your employer? An independent contractor will use their own equipment and tools to supply services and perform tasks.
For this reason, if your employer is trying to get you to bring your own laptop, use your own car, etc. you must be wary of the fact that they are trying to reclassify you from employee to independent contractor.
4. How You Are Paid
An employee receives either weekly wages or monthly salary. By contrast, an independent contractor is paid per project. Thus, your pay slips will be a much stronger piece of evidence before a judge than any claims your employer makes regarding your status. Make sure to give them to the Mississippi work injury attorney, because they will also be necessary to evaluate your replacement wages.
5. Whether You Are Receiving Benefits
Any benefits apart from the payment for your work indicate that you are an employee. Thus, if your employer gives you a company car, pays into your pension fund or contributes to your healthcare insurance, they cannot claim that you are an independent contractor.
What to Do After a Workplace Injury
Do not be discouraged by the fact that your employer says that you are not eligible for workers’ comp. You should still play by the rules and do everything you can to protect your chances of winning the benefits you deserve.
- Notifying your employer of the injury, first verbally then in writing
- Submitting to a drug and alcohol test
- Seeking medical attention as soon as possible after the accident – do not wait until the end of your shift
- Bringing your case to an experienced Mississippi work injury attorney.
Once the attorney has stepped in to confirm your status as an employee, your employer and their insurance company will further try to find ways to deny your claim. Thus, you must not make any mistakes, such as refusing to attend the independent medical examination or seeing another doctor than the one appointed by your employer.
Let Our Workers’ Compensation Law Firm Determine Your Employment Status
Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Lawyers is a law firm dedicated to helping injured workers obtain the benefits they deserve. This is not an easy process, and it may appear even hopeless if your employer says that you are an independent contractor. But you should not take their word for it.
An experienced Mississippi work injury attorney will analyze your employment status and find out the truth. In many cases, we were able to prove that the injured worker was an employee and had the right to file a workers’ comp claim. So, do not lose hope; instead, schedule a free case review with us and find out what your legal options for recovery are.