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Are Independent Contractors (1099) Covered By Workers’ Comp in GA?

A pen rests on top of independent contractor paperwork

Whether or not an injured worker is eligible for workers’ compensation under Georgia law partially depends on how much of an employer/employee relationship exists between the worker and the entity employing them.

The more control and influence an employer has over the time and manner of the work performed by the worker, the more likely workers’ compensation will be awarded to the injured contractor.

What Is a 1099 Employee?

The independent contractor has the ability to direct and control most aspects of their work. This definition includes contractors and subcontractors — people who operate an independent trade, profession, or business.

Sometimes there is confusion over whether a person is an independent contractor or employee. The IRS created a handy brochure to help clarify the differences. Depending on the facts, the courts have determined three main categories that they examine when evaluating a work-related case:

  • Behavioral Control - A worker is an employee when the business has the right to control or direct the worker, such as providing training, giving extensive instructions on how/when/where to do the work, dictating what equipment to use, advising who can help with the work, and directing where to purchase services or supplies.
  • Financial Control - If you have invested a significant amount of money, are not reimbursed for some or all business expenses, and can gain a profit or incur a loss, then you are most likely an independent contractor.
  • Relationship of the Parties - Receiving benefits (insurance, pension, paid leave, etc.) is an indication you may be an employee. Written contracts between you and a business may help clarify your status further.

Examples of Contract Employees Who Can Receive Workers’ Comp

Research from 2019 estimates that up to 44 million workers were self-employed at some point during the year. Florida, Georgia, and Vermont have the highest rates of self-employment compared to other states.

Due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, increased cost of living, and lack of adequate compensation, many workers are turning to contract, freelance, or self-employment jobs.

Independent contractors specifically make up around 6-10% of the labor force at any given time. More than half don’t receive any benefits whatsoever and lack many of the rights U.S. law grants regular workers.

Just because someone is a contracted worker, however, doesn’t mean they can’t receive workers’ compensation. Here is a sample of the types of workers who may be eligible for benefits in Georgia:

  • Accountants
  • Auctioneers
  • Auto mechanics
  • Carpenters
  • Construction workers
  • Consultants
  • Delivery drivers
  • Dentists
  • Electricians
  • Florists
  • Hairstylists
  • Lawyers
  • Lawn care specialists
  • Painters
  • Plumbers
  • Rideshare drivers
  • Subcontractors
  • Veterinarians
  • Wedding photographers
  • Writers

Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Injured Contractors

The line between independent contractor and employee is often fuzzy. Some employers or businesses may try to claim they don’t owe workers’ compensation benefits to an injured contractor when, in fact, they do.

We recommend you discuss the specifics of your work situation with one of our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers as soon as possible to determine whether or not you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

We believe the rights of workers should be respected regardless of their designation so that they can get the medical care and financial compensation they need to recover from their work injury. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Further Reading:

Founding Attorney Gary Martin Hays wrote about contracted employee rights after a work injury in his best-selling book The Authority on Workers’ Compensation Claims in Georgia. We’ve posted an excerpt from it regarding employers and employees that you may find useful.

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