In the state of Florida, employers are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance in the event that an employee is injured. In those cases, worker’s compensation claims are pretty clear.
But more and more people are self-employed and do contract work or freelance work as their main job. What about them?
If you are self-employed, there are things to be aware of when it comes to worker’s compensation – especially if you work in a field that is considered to be inherently dangerous, like construction. If you are a contract or freelance worker, then it’s vital to understand your options if you are injured at your Florida workplace.
Normal Worker’s Compensation
In Florida, an employer is required to carry worker’s compensation insurance if they have more than four employees, either full or part-time. However, construction companies are an exception – with even one employee, they are required to carry coverage under the law.
This type of insurance works to cover someone if they’re injured on the job. It will cover their medical expenses and other things, such as lost wages. It protects the employer and the employee, which is why it’s required by law. The gray area arises when you look at independent contractors or freelance workers.
Independent Contractors in Florida
Independent contractors are not employees. Therefore, they are not eligible under the law for worker’s compensation benefits in Florida. How do you know if you’re an independent contractor? There’s a test!
The “right to control test” is how someone can tell if they meet the state’s definition of independent contractor. In order to be considered an independent contractor, they must meet these criteria:
- The worker maintains a separate business
- The work is a part of the regular business of the employer
- The control that the worker has and to what extent they control aspects of their work
- The worker can perform the work for someone outside of the employer
- The worker can work outside of the employer’s typical operations scope
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that an employer classifies employees as independent contractors. It helps them to manage costs and avoid paying for worker’s compensation, but it’s not strictly legal.
If you suspect that you are not truly an independent contractor but have been classified as one, then you may want to consult with an experienced attorney.
Should You Buy Your Own Worker’s Compensation?
If you are considered to be self-employed and have no one else that works for you, then you have no legal obligation to purchase this type of insurance – though you may want to consider buying it for yourself. That way, if you are injured in a manner that keeps you from working, then you have something to fall back on to cover your expenses.
It only makes sense to purchase your own worker’s compensation insurance if you work in a job that puts you at risk. If you have a desk job and are an independent contractor or self-employed, then it may not be as crucial for you to obtain insurance – certainly not as it would for someone who has a job where their health and safety are at risk.
Also, if you hire subcontractors for your work, then you should look into insurance since you can be held liable for injuries to subcontractors whom you have hired.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2021 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2021, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019-2021.