Although the facts of the South Carolina Supreme Court case of Lewis v. L.B. Dynasty, in which a stripper was shot in a bar fight, are racier than most workers' compensation lawsuits, the underlying issue of employers mis-classifying workers is quite common.
In virtually all states, most companies of a certain size are required to carry workers' compensation coverage for each worker employed, in the event of injury. But business owners often attempt to sidestep this requirement by asserting that the workers are not in fact "employees" by legal definition. Instead, the workers are classified as "independent contractors," for whom workers' compensation insurance is not required.
The courts have taken on this issue and have generally come to the consensus that just because a worker is labeled as an independent contractor doesn't necessarily mean he or she is. An analysis is applied to determine if that classification is accurate. Usually, it involves the degree of control the firm had over the worker's day-to-day tasks, whether equipment was provided to the worker, whether the worker had the choice to turn down certain jobs and how the worker was paid.