Can an Independent Contractor Get Workers’ Compensation in Georgia?

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In the state of Georgia, independent contractors, freelancers, and/or consultants are not eligible for workers’ comp. This is because, technically, independent contractors are self-employed; they are both employers and employees. However, Georgia laws that define independent contractors are complex, and there are areas which are open to interpretation.

Definition of independent contractor for workers’ comp

Just because your employer has you listed as an independent contractor on paper does not necessarily mean you are an independent contractor under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. There are several factors courts will examine to make a determination regarding whether or not the place you work is your employer when you get hurt at work in Georgia and apply for workers’ comp benefits.

The Georgia Department of Labor offers a method that can establish a worker’s status using the state’s workers’ compensation statute, which defined an independent contractor as a person who:

  •      Is working under a contract that creates an independent contractor relationship
  •      Has the right to exercise control over time, manner, and method of work
  •      Is paid on a set price per job rather than salary or hourly basis

Stated simply, it boils down to how much control your employer has over you.

What happens if an independent contractor gets hurt on the job

Because independent contractors are not classified as employees, they are not eligible for workers’ comp. However, as outlined above, there are instances where employers misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying payroll taxes and workers’ comp premiums. Whether or not a worker is an employee is not controlled by whether the employer calls the worker an employee or an independent contractor, but rather by the circumstances surrounding the person’s work. For example, this recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that a worker who was fatally injured on the “Walking Dead” set should have been considered an employee, not an independent contractor.

Are you a construction worker? A cable or satellite installer? Temp worker? If you’ve been injured at work and believe you may have been misclassified, contact us for a free consultation.



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