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What Happens to Workers’ Compensation When an Employer Considers You an Independent Contractor?

Employers often misclassify employees as independent contractors to save on payroll expenses and workers’ compensation claims. But if you’ve had your workers’ comp claim denied because your employer insists you’re a contractor, you should know that your employer doesn’t get the last word on this issue. Calling you a contractor is meaningless if the facts support a finding that you are an employee under Florida law.

Employers only have to provide workers’ compensation benefits for employees. But if a business wants to call a worker a contractor, Florida law has pretty strict and detailed standards the business must meet. First, the situation must meet at least four of the following six criteria:

  • The contractor maintains a separate business with a work facility, truck, equipment, materials, etc.
  • The contractor, unless a sole proprietor, holds or has applied for a federal employer identification number.
  • The contractor receives compensation for services rendered paid to a business rather than to an individual.
  • The contractor has one or more bank accounts in the name of a business entity to pay expenses related to services rendered.
  • The contractor is able to work for any entity of his or her choosing in addition to the employer.
  • The contractor receives compensation on a competitive-bid basis or completion of a task or a set of tasks as defined by a contractual agreement.

Workers Comp in Florida

But, even if the situation doesn’t satisfy four of these criteria, the worker could still be a contractor if any of these circumstances exist:

  • The contractor performs specific services for a specific amount of money and controls the means of performing the services.
  • The contractor incurs the principal expenses related to work he or she performs.
  • The contractor is responsible for the satisfactory completion of the work.
  • The contractor receives compensation solely for a commission or on a per-job basis.
  • The contractor can earn a profit or suffer a loss in connection with the work.
  • The contractor has continuing or recurring business liabilities.
  • The success or failure of the contractor’s business depends on balancing revenues and expenses.

If the employer can prove the facts of your circumstances fit these criteria, you’re a contractor and you are not eligible for workers’ compensation. However, if the boss gives you supplies to do the job, oversees your work, pays you at regular intervals rather than upon completion of a project, and pays you the same rate regardless of the scope of the project, a court could find that you are an employee, fully eligible for workers’ comp.

Now, will an employer fight you tooth and nail in court over this issue? In many cases, the employer wants no part of court, because if he loses your case, the Internal Revenue Service will want to know how many other “contractors” are working at the business, and how much unpaid FICA tax the employer is liable for. Willful failure to pay FICA is a felony, punishable by a fine of $10,000 and up to five years in prison. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can be a great help in resolving this type of conflict in a timely manner, so you can access the benefits you deserve.

Vassallo, Bilotta & Davis helps injured clients in Florida appeal denials of workers’ compensation claims. Please call 561-471-2800 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation at one of our offices, located in West Palm Beach and Stuart.

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  • West Palm Beach Office
    2001 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd.
    Suite 204
    West Palm Beach, Florida 33409
    Phone: 561-471-2800
    Fax: 561-471-2818
  • Stuart Office
    50 E. Ocean Blvd.
    Stuart, Florida 34994
    Phone: 772-221-8262
Verdicts & Settlements
  • "$3,200,000 -- Motorcycle crash causing abdominal injuries* Defendant who was driving a van which struck our client only had $10,000 insurance coverage. Due to the failure of the insurer to timely resolve the case we obtained a settlement of 3.2 million."

  • "$2,156,249 -- Slip & fall causing low back injuries* Defendant grocery store put out wet floor signs due to a leaking freezer. Client fell while walking down the aisle. Defendant claimed client was 100% at fault. A jury found no responsibility on the client and awarded over 2.1 million in damages."

  • "$1,550,000 -- Tractor Trailor crash causing back injuries * Defendant trucking company claimed their driver was not at fault for a crash on I-95 and blamed a phantom vehicle After a trial the jury awarded our client over 1.5 million in damages."

  • "$1,417,937 -- Car crash causing injuries to an elderly couple.* Defendant claimed the husband who was 83 years old violated defendant's right of way. After a trial the jury awarded the husband and wife over 1.4 million."

  • "$1,000,000 -- Full-size Pickup Truck striking the back of client's car* Defendant denied liability claiming they were pushed from behind into our client. The case settled after a 2 week trial, while the jury was out deliberating."