The world of employment has shifted drastically in the last two decades, and it can impact workers in unexpected ways. Modern workers are more likely than people in the past to work as independent contractors and balance several different part-time jobs or gigs as freelancers instead of working a single full-time job.
On the surface, this kind of arrangement can offer people a lot of freedom, but it can also leave them at substantial risk if they get hurt because of the work they do. People who are employees can wind up working as contractors and limiting their own options if they get hurt at work.
In some circumstances, Illinois workers who file taxes as independent contractors can still qualify for workers' compensation benefits even if they don't carry coverage on their own behalf.
Can you prove that your employer misclassified you?
Not everyone who files taxes as an independent contractor meets the legal qualifications to be one. Quite a few companies hire part- or full-time employees and then intentionally misrepresent their relationship as a contract one, rather than an employment arrangement.
Companies do this for a number of reasons. First, they have less of a tax obligation if you are a contractor and not an employee. Secondly, they save money by not needing to pay for workers' compensation insurance to cover you. Finally, classifying you as an independent contractor protects them from any sort of claim related to unfair termination of your employment.
If you can show that you were part of the daily workflow for the company, that they managed your work or did not give you the autonomy to select your own work, you may be able to argue that misclassification is the real reason you don't have coverage.
You may have other options if you don't qualify for workers' compensation
Sometimes, the classification of independent contractor is legitimate and won't give you a reason to dispute a denial of your benefits. However, that doesn't mean there aren't other options for compensation.
For example, if you contract for a company that provided you with inadequate safety equipment or forced you to work on days when it was incredibly dangerous, you may be able to argue that negligence on the part of the company you work for played a role in your injury.
In circumstances where you are doing something like driving for a company, crashes caused by someone else on the road may have other options for compensation, such as insurance claims against the other driver or a personal injury lawsuit.
Discussing the exact circumstances of your injury with an experienced Illinois personal injury and workers' compensation attorney will make it easier for you to explore your rights and options.