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My employer says I am an independent contractor, does this affect my South Carolina Workers’ Compensation claim?

Increasingly and disturbingly, employers are attempting to claim an employee is an independent contractor. Though there are many benefits to employers in using independent contractors, many times an employer is attempting to improperly categorize an injured worker as an independent contractor in order to avoid liability for work-related accidents.

Under South Carolina Workers’ Compensation law, only “employees” are entitled to benefits under our laws. This term is broad but, essentially, if your employer proves that you were in fact an independent contractor rather than an “employee,” you could be denied the benefits you deserve if you are injured on the job. Fortunately, just because your employer says you are an independent contractor, does not necessarily mean that you actually are an independent contractor; it is much more complicated that a simple label.

These complicated cases require a deep analysis of the work relationship an employer and an employee had at the time the worker was injured.

Who Determines Whether I Am An Independent Contractor or Employee?
South Carolina Courts look to four different factors in determining whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. These four factors are: 1) the employer’s right to exercise or actual exercise of control over the details of the work and how it is performed; 2) the method of payment; 3) who furnishes the equipment; and 4) the employers’ right to terminate the employment. Generally, these factors are weighed by the Court to make a determination.

If a Court determines that the employer had the ability to tell you how to do your job, where to do your job, or when to do your job, this weighs in favor of you being considered an employee. Many times an employee being paid an hourly wage, daily wage, or salary weighs in favor of being considered an employee. A major factor of analysis is the furnishing of equipment for the job. If the employer provides a substantial amount of tools, equipment, or materials needed to complete the task this strongly points to an employee-employer relationship rather than independent contractor status. Finally, the ability to fire a worker or terminate the employment is examined by the Court to determine your employment status. If an employer can himself terminate the employment relationship then it is likely that the worker is an employee and not an independent contractor.

Our experienced attorneys have successfully argued that an injured worker is not an independent contractor and is entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act in court. If you have been injured on the job and are concerned about whether you can pursue benefits under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, if you have questions about the Workers’ Compensation process in South Carolina, or simply need to find out if you have a case, call Grimes Teich Anderson at 864-421-0770 or contact us over the internet at Initial consultations are free; it won’t cost you anything to speak with us. Grimes Teich Anderson is committed to protecting the rights of hard working South Carolinians.

Source: Farrar v. D.W. Daniel High School, 309 S.C. 440, 430 S.E. 2d 543 (1993).

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