Independent Contractor Injury Attorneys in Charleston
Many companies hire independent contractors rather than employees to perform specialized work in which the contractor may have specific training and experience. Independent contractors are technically self-employed persons who typically provide services for a number of different businesses and individuals, although some work mostly or exclusively for one party. In latter cases, there is sometimes a question over whether the person is classified correctly as a contractor or subcontractor, or whether they are actually an employee (more on this later).
Independent contractors and subcontractors are common in many industries, including transportation, construction, farming, and maintenance. On a typical construction project, for example, there are several different types of contractors that are brought in to do various tasks. These may include electricians, plumbers, HVAC installers, masons and bricklayers, concrete workers, ironworkers, roofers, landscapers, and many others. You also have the architects, engineers, and others that are involved in the planning stages of the project.
In a scenario like this, there are numerous individuals working together who are not directly employed by the building company. This means that the company does not provide employee benefits such as workers’ compensation coverage. Usually, the subcontractor is required to carry this coverage on their own.
When an independent contractor suffers an on-the-job injury, the process for recovering compensation can be quite a bit more complicated than if they were employed directly by the company or individual that they are doing work for. In many cases, a workers’ comp claim might not be an option. However, if their injury is caused by the negligence of the company that hired them or one of their employees, then they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.
Whatever the case, it is very important to review the specific circumstances of your injury with an experienced workplace injury lawyer at Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. For nearly 5 decades, our attorneys have been standing up for injured workers in West Virginia, whether they be employees or independent contractors. We have been involved in many landmark cases that have established new precedents allowing our clients (and others in their situation) greater access to the just compensation they deserve.
There are a number of complexities and nuances involved with independent contractor injury cases, and we work closely with our clients to thoroughly assess their case and explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering maximum compensation. We look beyond workers’ compensation to determine any and all parties that may be at fault for the injury, and we go to work immediately to gather all of the important facts and pieces of evidence to ensure that those responsible are held fully accountable.
Independent Contractor Classification in West Virginia
While many states are taking steps to crack down on employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors, West Virginia lawmakers are moving in the opposite direction. For federal employment tax purposes, the IRS uses a 20-factor test to assess the true working relationship between the individual and the person or entity that hired them. The test examines three primary categories:
- Behavioral Control: How much say a business has over the work being done and how it gets done. Independent contractors typically have much more freedom with regards to when and how they perform their work.
- Financial Control: An independent contractor will typically use his/her own tools and equipment, and payment is often made on a flat fee/per project basis rather than hourly.
- Relationship of the Parties: With independent contractors, there is typically a contract that describes the project and defines the work to be completed, and the work is usually completed within a specified period of time. Employees, on the other hand, normally work indefinitely or until either party decides to end the relationship.
It is estimated that somewhere between 10% and 30% of employees are misclassified as independent contractors, so this might be a possibility following an accident and injury. But even if the independent contractor turns out to be employee, there are still many instances in which they may be able to file a personal injury claim above and beyond whatever workers’ comp benefits they may be eligible for.
Taking the example of the construction site again, let’s say it turns out that an injured worker is actually an employee of the building company or general contractor that is in charge of the project. In a case like this, we would still look closely at how the injury happened and who may have been responsible. Some possible at fault parties may include:
- A third-party subcontractor who was working alongside the construction company employee.
- The driver of a vehicle who causes a vehicle accident with a company employee.
- The property owner who fails to properly warn the worker of defects or dangerous conditions on the premises.
- The designer, manufacturer, or distributor of a faulty piece of equipment or machinery that causes the accident.
There are also some very limited cases in which a West Virginia employee can sue their employer after getting injured on the job. However, they must have clear and convincing evidence that the injury was caused by the employer’s deliberate actions. These cases are very difficult to win, so be sure you discuss this possibility with a seasoned attorney before moving forward.
Employees and independent contractors who are able to file a negligence claim for their injuries can recover damages over and above what they could receive through a workers’ compensation claim. Not only can personal injury claimants obtain damages for economic losses such as medical expenses and lost earnings, but also for noneconomic losses such as pain-and-suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. This is why you want to work with attorneys who have the proven ability to pursue every possible legal avenue to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Contact Our Experienced West Virginia Independent Contractor Injury Lawyers
If you are an independent contractor or subcontractor in West Virginia who was injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, depending on the circumstances of your accident. To find out your rights and legal options, contact Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment.
We work on a contingent fee basis. We do not get paid unless you do.