Being hired as an independent contractor technically means that you are not working as a company employee. This can impact many things and mainly focuses on taxes, but it can also become a factor in a personal injury or worker's comp case. If you're an independent contractor that has been involved in a car accident, you may feel that you bear all the responsibility because of your working status. This is not always the case. Every situation is different and this is why it's important to break down the following four factors involved in your auto accident case and seek consultation with an attorney.
When working with various companies, you may often be asked to sign a contract. The details of this contract may confirm your independent contractor status, payment structure, and any legal issues. Some companies may include clauses that exclude you from worker's compensation. This is why it's important to present an attorney with all of your independent contractor contracts. Their legal team can go through the contracts to see what your options are for a potential case.
If there was no contract for your services, then you may have a better chance with your case. If this is the case, then you should present any evidence you have for working with the company. This includes W9 forms or pay stubs. These papers can show your history with the company and help establish a time line for when the car accident occurred. The longer you have worked for a company, the more precedence you may have to receive worker's compensation for your regular labor.
While working as an independent contractor, you may have to complete several jobs while operating a vehicle. For example, newspapers may hire independent contractors to drive and deliver papers on a daily basis. If you were involved in a crash while completing these tasks, the company you were working with may be held liable in an injury and worker's comp case.
The job locations may also have had an impact on your driving accident. For example, if you were hired to deliver packages as a courrier, you may be sent a dangerous road or work site that caused your car accident. These elements can make a huge difference in your personal injury case.
Passengers & Company Vehicles
Independent contractors may have a stronger case if they are involved in a car accident as a passenger. While riding with an employee for a company, the company is essentially ensuring your safety through their personal transportation. If you are injured in a car accident as a passenger, you are most likely an innocent factor during a car accident. Your injuries should be covered by the owner of the vehicle and in this case for working, it is the company that hired you as an independent contractor.
To help keep records and evidence, it's important to log your history when working with various companies. This includes listings of vehicles you ride in and different company properties that you have to visit. Sometimes you may get to use a company vehicle or equipment installed on a vehicle. This includes tow trucks or construction equipment. If you are injured using any parts of their property, the company may be liable for your worker's compensation and injury expenses.
Off the Clock Driving
One of the trickiest cases you can make is off the clock driving. Once your job is over as a contractor, you are technically off the clock and on your own personal time. If a car accident occurs on your way home, it may be harder to prove your case. This is why it's important to log all of your driving and job sites. By having as much evidence as possible, you can help establish your case and typical working schedule. Companies may claim that you're off the clock while you're still performing tasks or necessary errands that the job requires. A lawyer can help break down these times and create a clear schedule.
When seeking workman's compensation for your auto accident injury, you really have nothing to lose by seeking legal actions. You are your own employee and would be responsible if the company you completed services for does not help with worker's compensation payments. A consultation with a lawyer (like those at Fonvielle, Lewis, Foote & Messer) can help establish your case and move forward quickly.