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Can independent contractors receive workers’ compensation?

If you are an independent contractor in Pennsylvania, you may wonder whether or not you’ll be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if hurt on the job. Unfortunately, determining whether a worker is considered an independent contractor can be a bit difficult to ascertain.

In general, establishing employment usually takes place on a case-by-case basis. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, a previous case involving a freight company resulted in the determination that each employer must make a fair and reasonable decision regarding whether or not a worker can be categorized as an employee or an independent contractor. This entails looking at certain aspects of the specific employer/employee relationship.

For instance, are you subject to a dismissal by your employer? If you are, this would point to a traditional working relationship that may fall outside of the limitations imposed on independent contractors. Another consideration is whether tools and other working materials are provided to you by the employer, or if the employer sets working hours on a regular basis for you.

The nature of your work can also play a role in establishing workers’ compensation eligibility. For example, so-called ‘artisan’ workers (such as plumbers) are often considered to be independent contractors due to the level of skill required to perform their duties, as well as the need for a license to perform such tasks. However, even independent contractors employed in this capacity may still be considered traditional employees if the work performed is continuous and/or if the work performed is considered integral to the enterprise.

Because every employment situation is unique, contacting a personal injury attorney is highly recommended if you are hurt on the job. The right attorney will assist you in making sense of your available options, and can help determine whether you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. 

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