Generally, the Oklahoma workers’ compensation program covers all employees hired by any employer who suffers a job-related injury. However, independent contractors are not employees. As a result, these individuals are ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured in the workplace.
Defining an Independent Contractor
An independent contractor is an individual who agrees to perform a service for another individual or business. The contractor works according to their preferred methods. The person for whom an independent contractor performs the services is free from their direction and control. The only responsibility of the independent contractor is to produce the final service as agreed upon by the parties.
Factors that Determine Whether a Worker is an Independent Contractor or Employee
Various elements may impact whether an individual qualifies as an employee or an independent contractor:
- The presence of a written or oral contract for services
- The degree of control that the employer may exercise over the independent contractor in terms of carrying out the details of the job
- The level of independence that the independent contractor enjoys in doing their job
- Whether the individual engages in a distinct occupation or business, and whether the individual also provides that same occupation or business for others
- Whether the individual performs the work without supervision
- Whether the work performed by the individual requires a certain degree of skill, license, education, or training
- Whether the individual provides their materials, tools, and workplace for performing the services
- The length of the job, and whether it is a one-time job or a job performed regularly
- Whether the individual is paid as an independent contractor, meaning that they receive a 1099 form from the employer, receives payment after presenting an invoice to the employer, is paid by the job, and files a tax return for their business
- Whether the work is part of the employer’s regular business or a job that no employee typically performs or has the skill to perform
- Whether the parties believe that they are creating an employee-employer relationship
- Whether either party has the right to terminate the working relationship without liability
No one factor determines whether an individual qualifies as an employee or an independent contractor. Instead, you must look at the totality of the circumstances, or a combination of the factors listed above, to make that decision. However, this is an important distinction to make, as an on-the-job injury can be costly.
Alternatives for Compensation for Independent Contractors
Having access to workers’ compensation benefits – or not having access to those benefits – can make a big difference. However, independent contractors may have alternative means of seeking compensation if they are injured on the job, at least in some cases. For example, if negligence by the employer or another employee led to the job-related injury, the injured independent contractor may file a personal injury lawsuit. This type of lawsuit could entitle the injured party to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Call Us Today and Learn How We Can Help
The attorneys and staff of Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C., are here to assist you with your workers’ compensation claims and related legal needs. We have the experience and knowledge that can be invaluable in handling your workers’ compensation claim. To find out more about the legal services that we can offer you, contact us today at (918) 582-2500 or visit us online for more information.