Is Workers’ Compensation for Independent Contractors Available?
When you are an independent contractor you have more flexibility and the potential to earn more than workers who make a straight salary working for a single employer. And while there are obvious benefits, you know from experience that with the flexibility and extra earning capacity that comes with working for yourself, there are added anxieties and responsibilities.
When you work for yourself, you have a lot of freedom but also a lot to think about, prepare for and worry about.
When you work for yourself and you sustain a work-related injury or illness, you may wonder how you can afford your medical bills or how you’ll get paid for missed time from work. Fortunately, if you have Pennsylvania workers’ compensation insurance, those benefits can provide necessary financial support while you recover.
Independent contractors work in every US business sector
According to an article by Business New Daily, “more small businesses are using independent contractors than ever, preferring outside consultants and freelancers over hiring full-time or part-time employees. Independent contractors bring employers scheduling flexibility, fewer tax obligations and straightforward working relationships.”
Independent contractors are financial planners, accountants, truck drivers and owner-operators, construction workers, food delivery drivers, and more.
Gig work is big business. And gig workers are independent contractors.
Lyft, Uber, DoorDash, Rover, Postmates, Instacart, and Grubhub … these are some of the biggest names in the gig economy; international and nationwide companies worth millions to billions of dollars. These companies all employ millions of independent contractors across the US.
Uber alone had 5.4 million drivers and couriers in its most recent reporting year and every driver is an independent contractor.
When you work for a “gig” company and you are injured while on the job, workers’ comp can provide absolutely vital financial assistance to you while you recover, including disability benefits.
Some potential gig work injuries may include but are not limited to:
- Trips and falls
- Slips and falls, such as on ice or snow or a wet porch or steps
- Vehicle accident injuries, if on the job when injured
- Strains and sprains from lifting and carrying heavy items
- Dog bites, animal attacks, and other injuries
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance that is required by Pennsylvania for all employers in the Commonwealth. Workers’ comp covers all PA employees from their first day at work regardless if they are full time or part time.
Workers’ compensation is mandatory. It is paid by the employer for every employee and is usually purchased through a workers’ compensation insurance company. Workers’ compensation is an essential financial safety net for Pennsylvania workers for when they become hurt while on the job, when they aggravate an existing condition from work duties or for when they become sick from working conditions.
Why Do I Need to Purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
There are a few reasons that you should carry workers’ compensation insurance as an independent contractor in Pennsylvania
- You work with a business that requires it. PA workers’ comp insurance carried by employers covers only regular employees – you are not covered as an independent contractor. If you hurt yourself while on the job, you will not receive any financial benefits like their regular employees do. You will receive no financial help for medical bills or lost wages. If you don’t have workers’ comp insurance, the company may not want the added liability of hiring an uncovered contractor. Some companies, especially in the construction sector, will not sign a contract with a worker until they can provide proof of coverage. Injured workers collecting workers’ comp benefits are not allowed to sue an employer for their injuries or illness so workers’ comp insurance protects you AND them. And companies know this.
- You and your family have decided you want workers’ compensation insurance protection. If you are hurt while on the job and you do not have workers’ comp insurance, you are responsible for all of your medical expenses. Workers’ comp benefits can provide a necessary safety net for you and your family when you are injured or you have developed an occupational disease.
- You want to protect your business. When you are hurt at work, your medical expenses can become overwhelming very quickly. If you are injured seriously enough that you need time to recover, for surgery or physical therapy, you may be losing even more money because you are unable to work, or even go out on the road to give estimates. A serious work-related injury or illness can put you out of business. Workers’ comp can protect your investment by preventing the need to use business funds and savings for medical and living expenses.
If you are an independent contractor and you have been hurt at work, call the expert workers’ compensation attorneys at Munley Law today. We have been representing the hardworking people of Pennsylvania for more than 60 years. We know workers’ comp law and we will fight for you to receive your maximum compensation.
What Does Workers’ Comp Insurance Cover?
Even if you carry medical insurance, recovering from a work accident can still be costly. Thankfully PA workers; compensation insurance benefits can provide essential financial relief while you are recovering.
This coverage includes but is not limited to the following:
- Doctors visits
- Emergency and urgent care visits
- Hospital stays
- Medical equipment (for example, wheelchairs)
- Travel to and from medical appointments
Also known as wage loss protection, disability benefits will ensure that your wages are protected. You can expect to receive financial support proportional to the severity of your injury. If you are completely disabled, you will receive the maximum payout, which for injuries on or after January 1, 2022, will be $1205.00 per week. If you are partially disabled, that will be reflected in your payout.
Vocational rehabilitation benefits are designed to help you get back on your feet. For people who are able to return to their previous work, this coverage includes training programs.
For those who are unable to return to their previous work, vocational rehabilitation services will help them find a new career. Such coverage includes career counseling, general professional training, and employment searches. For more information on what vocational rehabilitation resources are available to you, check out the National Rehabilitation Information Center.
Unfortunately, some workplace accidents are severe enough to cause death. If you die as a result of a workplace accident, workers’ compensation will provide death benefits to your survivors, which include compensation for loss of life, as well as coverage for funeral and burial expenses.
What Are “Specific Loss” Benefits and How Does It Apply to Independent Contractors?
Workers’ compensation benefits cover lost wages when you miss work. But there is a special category of injury that you may be entitled to collect even if you are able to return quickly to work.
Specific Loss benefits is a financial compensation available to injured workers who have suffered a permanent injury or loss such as the loss of a limb or body part or when they have suffered permanent disfigurement.
Some of these injuries include:
- Permanent hearing loss
- Loss of vision
- Loss of limbs or amputation
As an independent contractor, you are entitled to these benefits only if you have workers’ compensation insurance.
I Am an Independent Contractor and I Got Hurt While on the Job. What Do I Do Now?
Notify your insurer immediately. As long as you were not engaging in any illegal behavior, your injury or illness is covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
If you are suffering from an occupational illness or injury that occurred over a period of time from workplace conditions or repeated stress such as asthma or carpal tunnel syndrome, notify your insurance company as soon as you receive your official diagnosis from your licensed medical provider.
Be sure to:
- Keep all of your medical appointments
- Keep all of your medical records
- Keep track of all of your lost wages
- Get a Munley Law workers comp attorney
If your claim is approved, the insurance company will contact you with benefit details. You and your worker’s compensation attorney (if you have one) can now:
- Accept the workers’ comp insurance company’s benefits offer, which may cover the costs of medical expenses, disability benefits, and some of your lost wages or you can
- Negotiate for a lump-sum settlement or a larger “structured” settlement.
What Should I Do if My Worker’s Compensation Claim is Denied?
If the insurer refuses to reimburse you in the case of workers’ compensation, you’re likely to receive a letter explaining the reasons and methods of appeal.
If your insurer denies your payments, you and your attorney, if you have one, have the option to:
- Request a review for reconsideration from the insurance company
- File a formal appeal, through the PA state workers’ compensation board
Do I Need to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer if I Get Hurt?
A skilled workers’ comp attorney will collect all the documentation you need in order to prove your claim. This includes medical records associated with the work injury, documentation related to the events that led to the injury, and records of witnesses to the injury. Your lawyer will then prepare and file all the paperwork you need to make the claim.
While you focus on healing from your injury, your workers’ compensation lawyer will act as a liaison between you, your medical providers, your insurance company or other parties involved in your case. If your case is taken to a workers’ compensation judge, your Munley workers’ compensation attorney will be by your side to represent you during the hearing.
Finally, if your case is denied, an expert workers’ comp lawyer will take you through the appeals process.
Every aspect of your case will be managed by the workers’ compensation lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys and they will work tirelessly to ensure you recover the maximum compensation for your work-related injuries.
If you are an independent contractor and you have been hurt at work, don’t wait. Call Munley Law today for your free case evaluation. We charge you nothing until we win your maximum allowed benefits.
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