In 2019, over 78,000 nonfatal workplace injuries took place in Georgia businesses. The average cost of a workers’ compensation claim is approximately $40,000. Because of our mobile and independent population, approximately 14% of the U.S. population said that being an independent contractor was their primary job.
So, do independent contractors get workers’ compensation in Georgia?
No. Independent contractors are not eligible for Georgia workers’ compensation benefits. However, they are able to file a tort claim against the employer, which might give independent contractors the opportunity to recover damages that aren’t covered by a Georgia workers’ compensation claim such as pain and suffering.
That being said, there are many factors that a court takes into consideration when deciding if a person is actually an independent contractor or an employee.
What’s an Independent Contractor vs. Employee?
It’s important to know how an independent contractor and employee are defined under Georgia state law and the differences between the two.
Georgia defines an independent contractor as:
- Someone who is paid a specific rate per job, such as a lump sum (rather than a salary or hourly rate)
- Has a contract that outlines the job responsibilities
- Has control over the time/hours they work (versus a set schedule)
- Length of time the independent contractor is employed
- Supplies their own materials and tools
- Work completed is an additional service to the business (rather than as part of the employer’s regular business)
An employee is different from an independent contractor in several key ways:
- From a legal perspective, employment and labor laws apply to employees, not independent contractors.
- For employees, the company controls what an employee does on the job, and how they do it. Typically, employees are provided with the tools and supplies needed to perform their jobs, whereas an independent contractor provides their own supplies.
- Employees receive benefits such as pensions, 401K insurance, and vacation/sick pay; independent contractors typically do not.
- From a tax perspective, if your employer issues you a 1099 at tax time, they classified you as an independent contractor. If your employer issues you a W-2, they classified you as an employee.
It is important to note that when it comes to workers’ compensation, the difference between whether someone is an independent contractor or an employee is to be determined by a judge on a case-by-case basis.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is designed to protect both the employer and the employee from expenses associated with injuries obtained while on the job. It is an insurance policy paid by employers, typically to a state agency. Injuries associated with, or happening on the job, are then submitted to the agency for payment.
Workers’ compensation provides support to injured workers in the form of payment for medical bills, lost wages, and even death. Workers’ compensation laws also protect injured workers’ jobs/positions as they heal. In return, workers’ compensation protects businesses from the devastating damages that may arise from injured workers.
Common workers’ compensation injuries can come from falls, faulty equipment, or faulty safety equipment. They can also come from repetitive stress injuries. The most commonly injured area is the back, while the most common cause of injury is from motor vehicle accidents.
It’s important to note that your Georgia employer is required by law to carry workers’ compensation if they:
- Have three or more regular employees
- This includes seasonal, full-time, or part-time
Do Independent Contractors Get Workers’ Compensation?
The majority of the time the answer is no, they are not eligible for workers’ compensation if injured on the job. Independent contractors, therefore, should carry their own personal injury insurance policies.
If you are injured on the job, you should discuss your case with a qualified attorney before signing anything. In some cases, independent contractors might be eligible for workers’ compensation or other compensation.
What is the Exclusive Remedy Provision?
The exclusive remedy provision in workers’ compensation shields the employer from being sued in tort, but it doesn’t apply if the person is deemed an independent contractor. This means if an independent contractor has injuries at work, they have the legal option to sue.
Depending on the court’s ruling, independent contractors could be compensated for any medical costs. The amount of monetary compensation they could receive for medical expenses is based on total medical bills. They could include:
- Doctor Visits
- Hospital Bills and other Medical Care Costs
- Prescription Medications
- Physical Therapy
- Gas for travel to and from your doctor’s office
- Pain and suffering costs
Workers’ compensation benefits are similar to the above, with the exception of pain and suffering costs. If you’ve experienced any of the below injuries as an independent contractor, you are entitled to file a tort claim:
- Falling Objects
- Machinery Injuries
- Repetitive Motion Injuries
- Industrial Accidents
- Vehicle Accidents
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Dog bites
- Pedestrian accidents
Do you have a work-related injury?
Injured On The Job? Follow These Steps:
If you’re injured on the job as an independent contractor, make sure to follow the below steps so that you can increase your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve:
How a Lawyer Can Help With Your Georgia Workers’ Comp Claim or Tort Claim
If you’ve been injured at your job while working as an independent contractor or as an employee, filing either a civil lawsuit or a Georgia workers’ comp claim can be overwhelming. This is where Beth Gearhart can help. As an expert in Georgia work-related injuries, Beth and the team at her law firm will fight on your behalf to help get you the settlement benefits you deserve while also helping you to save money.
The main difference between a positive result with legal action and a bad settlement is the lawyer. The lawyer’s ability to understand and focus on your best interests is absolutely critical.
Whether you need a lawyer to help you with your tort claim, dealing with insurance agents and your insurance company, or helping with workers’ compensation coverage, workers’ compensation insurance, workers’ comp benefits, and workers’ compensation eligibility, our team at Gearhart Law Group is there to work for you.
Have You Been Injured on the Job?
If you have been injured at work, you need to speak to a qualified attorney who understands the specific workers’ compensation laws in your state. Only they can answer the question, “Do independent contractors get workers’ compensation?”
Our qualified team of workers’ comp lawyers will sit with you for a free consultation to review the specifics of your case. Only after they have a complete understanding can they ensure that you are receiving the fullest protection of the law.