Workers’ compensation in Indiana provides for workers who are injured on the job and for workers who become ill because of their jobs. However, not everyone who “works” or who “has a job” in Indiana is covered by workers’ compensation.
What is your first priority if you are injured while you’re working? You must seek medical attention immediately. After you’ve submitted to a medical examination, arrange to discuss your rights and options with an experienced Evansville workplace injury attorney.
HOW DOES WORKERS’ COMPENSATION HELP WORKERS IN INDIANA?
Workers’ compensation is usually favored by employers because employees who are covered by workers’ comp give up their right to bring personal injury lawsuits against employers.
Workers’ compensation in Indiana works like this: If you are injured while working, instead of filing a lawsuit against your employer, having to prove that your employer was negligent, and possibly losing your lawsuit, you may claim workers’ compensation benefits.
That is, you may claim workers’ comp benefits if the party who pays you considers you a legal employee. However, the system is not always fair to everyone who works for a living, because a lot of working people in the state of Indiana are not covered by workers’ compensation.
WHO’S COVERED BY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION? WHO ISN’T?
Indiana law requires employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their workers. Who has coverage and who doesn’t? Workers who are legally considered “employees” are covered, while workers who are considered independent contractors are not.
But who is an employee and who is an independent contractor? That is a question that sometimes gets legally quite complicated. If you are not absolutely sure that you have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, ask your employer. You need to know.
Generally speaking, independent contractors in Indiana do not have any workers’ comp coverage or any right to acquire workers’ compensation benefits.
WHO IS CONSIDERED AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR?
Who is an independent contractor? Here is what the IRS says:
“People … who are in an independent trade, business, or profession in which they offer their services to the general public are generally independent contractors. However, whether these people are independent contractors or employees depends on the facts in each case.”
The IRS further explains that in most cases, “an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done.”
You are not an independent contractor, according to the IRS, if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer – that is, the employer controls what will be done and how it will be done. Independent contractors pay self-employment taxes, but employees’ taxes are withheld.
WHO DECIDES WHO’S AN EMPLOYEE AND WHO’S A CONTRACTOR?
After a work-related injury in this state, if a dispute emerges over the employment status of the person making the injury claim, only the Workers Compensation Board of Indiana or the Indiana courts can determine whether or not a worker is an independent contractor or is an employee.
That decision is made only after a work-related injury occurs. If there is a dispute, the Workers Compensation Board will examine the characteristics of the worker-employer relationship at the time of the injury.
Working as a contractor appeals to a lot of people. You usually get to schedule your own hours, and you can often work at your own pace and do it your own way. But independent contractors do not receive health insurance benefits, sick days, or workers’ compensation coverage.
WHEN CONTRACTORS ARE INJURED, CAN THEY BE COMPENSATED?
Frankly, it is also a lot more difficult to acquire compensation for a job-related injury if you are an independent contractor in Indiana, but you have some legal options.
If you sustain a job-related injury as an independent contractor in this state, and if your employer’s negligence is the reason why you were injured, you can probably pursue a personal injury claim with the help of a skilled workplace injury attorney.
If a party other than your employer was negligent and responsible for your injuries, you may be able to file a third-party personal injury claim. If you sustain a job-related injury, have a personal injury lawyer review the facts of the case and recommend the best way for you to move forward.
WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE IF YOU ARE INJURED AT WORK?
If you suffer an injury on the job, seeking medical treatment is your first and most immediate priority. You will also need to notify your employer in writing that you’ve been injured. Make sure that you keep a copy of that notification.
Keep, copy, and securely store the copies of every document generated by your injury – your notification to your employer, medical bills and test results, and any other paperwork that you receive.
As quickly as possible after you’ve been injured, discuss your rights and options with a qualified Evansville workplace injury attorney.
After reviewing the details, your attorney should be able to tell you if you qualify for workers’ compensation or if you will need to file a personal injury claim.
HOW CAN A WORK ACCIDENT LAW FIRM HELP YOU?
If you are considered an employee and you qualify for workers’ comp benefits, your attorney can help you complete the application and ensure that no misunderstandings or mistakes delay your benefits. If workers’ comp benefits are denied, your lawyer can help you appeal that decision.
If you are an independent contractor, your attorney will help you to file a personal injury claim and will negotiate on your behalf for the compensation that you will need and deserve after a workplace injury.
Every workplace injury is different. Every worker’s situation is different. That’s why, if you are injured at work or while you’re working, you must be advised and – if necessary – represented by a reliable and experienced Indiana personal injury lawyer.
By law, you are entitled to compensation if you are injured while working or if you are injured by another party’s negligence, but to acquire that compensation, you will need a good lawyer’s help. If you’ve been injured, a good lawyer’s help is your right. Your future could depend on it.