Articles Posted in Independent Contractors

If you are injured at work as a result of negligence from a co-worker, that co-worker would be protected from a personal injury lawsuit per the exclusive remedy provisions of South Carolina workers’ compensation law.
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This is the provision that shields the employer and any employees from litigation, even if they acted with negligence. (Intentional acts may be different.)

In some cases, contractors could claim co-worker status (or “statutory co-employee” and therefore also be protected under exclusive remedy provisions. But this is not an absolute.

In fact, there have been a number of cases in which independent contractors have been successfully sued for personal injury claims, even after the employee has collected workers’ compensation.
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North Carolina has a significant number of professional commercial drivers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in the state is about 48,000, ranking it 10th in the nation for the most truck drivers.
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Often, these workers face an increased risk for violence. They tend to work solo, often and night, and for commercial passenger drivers, they frequently come in contact with the public.

While any injuries arising out of or in the course of work may fall under the umbrella of workers’ compensation benefits, a growing number of employers are getting around this by establishing a system whereby workers are not “employees,” but rather “independent contractors.” The latter are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These workers might have the option to sue the employer, but they’d have to prove negligence. That can be tough in a case of intentional violence by a third-party away from a stationary work site.
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One of the world’s most notorious construction sites has been haunted by a series of accidents and injuries related to dangerous working conditions. Rebuilding “Ground Zero” into the new World Trade center has resulted in many serious injuries that often went unreported. According to a Daily News investigation, over 30 serious injuries that occurred on the site were not reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Many of the workers suffered from serious and permanent injuries, including spinal cord fractures and broken bones. The report was based on court documents and city records, medical reports, and OSHA reports.

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Workers endured a host of injuries, including getting struck in the head, falling from scaffolding, or getting struck by a steel plate. These were a few of the severely injured workers whose cases were never reported to OSHA. Construction zones are widely known have some of the most dangerous working conditions. Contractors, subcontractors, property owners, and other managers involved in construction projects must ensure that equipment is safe and maintained, that sites are secure, and that workers are properly trained. In these accident cases, some of the workers were able to recover, but others are still in rehabilitation or suffering from permanent injuries.
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Our Asheville workers’ compensation attorneys understand that questions will often arise as to whether an injured worker was an employee or an independent contractor.

770382_scaffold.jpgThe North Carolina Industrial Commission has outlined the requirements related to workers’ compensation insurance when dealing with independent contractors.

In Cabajal v. Precision Builders, Inc., the Supreme Court of Oklahoma ruled on the issue of whether the injured worker was an employee for the purposes of workers’ compensation eligibility. The worker was allegedly injured while he was on scaffolding that was blown over. He filed for workers’ compensation benefits, claiming that he was an employee of the construction company.
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Workers at a hummus manufacturer in Massachusetts were rounding out their day when they heard the piercing screams of their 28-year-old colleague. He’d become trapped in rotating screws that blend the hummus. His co-workers tried desperately to free him from the slow-churning, 9-inch blades.
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The temporary worker’s arms were crushed and part of his head was severely injured. He died before an ambulance could transport him to the hospital.

Horrific as his 2011 death was, our Asheville workers’ compensation lawyers understand it was entirely preventable. In fact, federal officials recently concluded a report on the accident indicating that had the plant implemented a basic practice known as lock out/tag out, which requires workers to cut power to machinery before cleaning, it would never have happened. Worse, this company had been warned two years earlier that serious risk of death was imminent if this practice wasn’t implemented.
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The recent case of Shatto v. McLeod Regional Medical Center, reviewed by the South Carolina Supreme Court, is a testament to the fact that independent contractors can successfully file a Spartanburg workers’ compensation claim.
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What is required is to prove the worker was not an independent contractor after all, but rather an employee – no matter what the actual job title stated or suggested.

Under South Carolina law, workers’ compensation benefits can’t be collected by someone working as an independent contractor (McLeod v. Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co.). The problem, as outlined in a recent compliance report by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee, is that far too many companies try to cheat the system by improperly classifying workers.
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Employee rights have developed over centuries to protect workers financially, physically, and from other abuses that may result from employers or companies taking advantage of power. While the legal rights of workers have developed, employers continue to find loopholes to make a profit and put workers at a disadvantage. One way that workers may lose rights is when they are misclassified by an employer.

Construction workers, factory workers, and other skilled laborers may find themselves signing an “Independent Contractor” arrangement, even when they are actually a bona fide employee. Unfortunately, many workers do not realize that they are signing away their rights until it is too late. Though contracts can be binding, “Employee” versus “Independent Contractor” status is determined by law and the courts, not an agreement established by an employer. Our Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced in the complexities of workers’ compensation law and are dedicated to helping protect employee rights.

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One primary difference between an “Independent Contractor” and an “Employee” is that an employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Employers will intentionally misclassify employees for several reasons. First of all, they do not have to pay workers’ compensation insurance. Companies and single employers also avoid various taxes and can avoid a number of other legal obligations that they would otherwise have to an employee.

Courts base classification on the degree of control the employer has involving the manner and method of work. Misclassification of employees is not difficult because it usually isn’t challenged until an employee is in need of workers’ compensation or other benefits. Many employees don’t realize that they do not have the correct status until they are facing a dispute with an employer who avoided taxes and failed to pay insurance.

Some legislators are suggesting that companies should face criminal prosecution and that civil penalties should be increased for such misclassifications. Other ways to discourage misclassification would be to create a statutory definition of employment. For example, in Germany, any employee who makes more than 82% of their wages from one party is technically an employee and cannot have “Independent Contractor” or freelancer status. This broadens the security gap for employees who are solely dependent on one employer for income. Some workers’ rights advocates are also proposing that legislators revoke the licenses of perpetrators or consider workers’ compensation for all employees.

A new bill will require employers to notify employees of their work classification in writing. At least workers who are classified as “Independent Contractors” will be aware of their status in advance and can contest any terms that they disagree with. The bill also increases punishments for those who practice fraud and wage theft.

Workers’ compensation is a program intended to protect workers and their families in the event of an injury, illness or work-related accidental death. Unlike personal injury claims, employees do not have to prove negligence; however claims are limited to medical expenses and lost wages. Employees who are denied benefits may be able to file third-party negligence claims. The North Carolina bill would protect workers and ensure that companies and employers are compelled to compliance.
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The workers’ compensation program is intended to help workers and their families quickly and effectively recover financial support after an accident or injury. While workers are not required to prove negligence or fault, recovery under the workers’ comp program is limited to medical expenses and lost wages. Many workers are not aware that they may also be entitled to third-party injury claim. In addition, many independent contractors are not aware of their rights to recover under the workers’ comp program or for third-party negligence.

Our North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced in handling a range of claims involving workers. Contractors and their loved ones should be aware of the full scope of opportunities they have to recover for all losses, including wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, long-term care needs, as well as wrongful death benefits. Our legal team will explore every opportunity to recover the full compensation you and your family deserve.
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Many companies are using contractors to avoid certain liabilities. In many ways, independent contractors do not have the same rights as workers. A contract is a worker employed by an agency or who is self-employed but working for another firm that exercises responsibility for the operations of the site. When a worker suffers a serious injury or is killed on-site, contractors and their family members may be entitled to recover workers’ compensation. They may also be able to pursue additional benefits through third-party negligence claims.

Contractor fatal accidents may include falls, vehicle accidents, equipment failures, explosions, or fires. Any work-related accident, injury or death requires an immediate investigation to determine the cause of the accident and to identify responsible parties. Some cases may become more difficult if the injury involved a contractor at a private residence or a worker injured or killed at sites where a firm does not have overall responsibilities.

Immediately after an accident, an injured worker or their family should file appropriate claims. An experienced attorney can ensure that documentation is properly filed and that medical records are used to support that claim. An injured worker should continue to seek medical treatment and therapies, when available. In addition to filing workers’ compensation claim, an attorney should investigate whether third-party claims are possible.

Third-party claims for contractors may involve a negligent contractor or sub-contract, equipment malfunction and product liability, auto accidents and defective parts or negligent drivers, and premises liability claims against property owners or maintenance companies. These cases can be complicated, but an experienced advocate can review your case and pursue the full compensation you and your family are entitled to.

Contractors are often victims of serious and permanent injury, including head and back injuries. In these cases, it may be necessary to recover additional compensation for long-term care and treatment. While these costs are not covered by the workers’ compensation program, victims and their family may be entitled to pain and suffering as well as additional medical care costs. Our attorneys have extensive experience in handling complex workers’ comp claims as well as personal injury claims.
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In a recent North Carolina construction accident, two young children were killed.

We oftentimes talk about the risks that these workers face on construction sites nationwide, but this time the risks reached into the community. According to NBC News, a 31-year-old construction worker was using a backhoe Sunday evening in a pit when the walls caved in on two children. They weren’t dug out until Monday morning.
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“I kept grabbing what was in front of me…I wasn’t going to stop until I pulled them out. But I couldn’t save them,” said the children’s guardian.

Our Stanley workers’ compensation attorneys understand the risks that accompany construction sites. Usually we’re talking about the dangers that are presented to those who work on these sites. But we need to remember that these risks may impact others. No one should ever play or loiter on a construction cite. Not only are these grounds off limits, but they’re unsafe. It’s important that we relay these messages to our young residents. What they see as a fun, new playground can actually be a deadly construction site.

According to investigators, that pit was 20 feet deep and 20 feet wide. It had a steep entrance that led all the way to the bottom. According to the accident report, the children were at the bottom of the pit trying to get a package when the accident happened. What was later found in the investigation is that there were no permits issued to be digging on that particular site.

No one knows exactly why the pit was being dug. Some speculate it was a “doomsday bunker” while others suspect it would be used for illegal activity.

According to the owner, he was in the process of constructing a rammed earth home. That’s an ancient building method where builders use dirt to shape the foundation. Allegedly, the digging had been going on for close to six months. He said he looked into permits, but didn’t think he needed one at the time.

He says he didn’t think that the walls would collapse.

Whether it’s for home construction or commercial construction, the safest practice need to be a first priority to keep workers safe and to help prevent nearby residents from undue hazard.

The property owner said that the children were never granted permission to be on the construction site. But children will be children. He said that they loved to play in the backyard and would sometime sneak over without warning.

We don’t want anyone else to have to endure the pain and suffering that this family has. Make sure you talk to you young one about the risks that are associated with unfamiliar areas and especially on construction areas. Make sure your children are always supervised when playing outside and that they understand the dangers of leaving their designated play areas.

Under the doctrine of attractive nuisance, the property owner may be held responsible in this case. Damages for non-employee injuries will need to be pursued through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
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If you’ve lost your job, you’ve still got rights that you need to protect. Some of those rights include continuing your health care coverage and unemployment compensation, according to the United States Department of Labor.
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There are a number of reasons why a worker may leave the job. They could be fired, they can resign, they can suffer from a work accident or they can choose to change career paths. Regardless, there are things that you need to know about leaving a job. Both you and your employer have responsibilities to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Our Asheville workers’ compensation attorneys understand that some employees and their families who might otherwise lose health benefits have the right to choose to continue their group health benefits provided by their group health plan through work for a limit amount of time. Many may not be aware of this and may unknowingly give up these rights. In these cases, many times employers and companies are required to provide these individuals with specific notices regarding these issues.

Those who have been let go of a job through no fault of their own and meet a few other requirements might be able to receive funds through unemployment benefits, too. These benefits were created to help to provide temporary financial help to those who lost their job for specific and limited reasons. Funds are available to those individuals who meet specific requirements under their state law and under federal law.

With the federal unemployment insurance program, each state is allowed to administer their own insurance program. It’s required to follow federal law however.

Under the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) law, employers are prohibited from discriminating on the job against any employee. They cannot discriminate against employees regarding veteran status, disability, national origin, ethnicity, sex, religion, color, race or age. Employers are not allowed to let go an employee based on any of these characteristics.

While some are worried about what they’re going to do because they’ve been laid off, others are just thankful that they’ve got a job and a lot more people are saying that now. According to the Secretary of the Department of Labor, the U.S. added nearly 100,000 jobs in the month of June.

The month of June serves as the 28th month in a row in which there has been growth in the private sector. Now, there are nearly 4.5 million private sector jobs. Gross domestic product growth has now been positive for 11 consecutive quarters and we continue on the path toward stable and durable growth.
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